Letters to the Editor: January 9, 2020

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A Happy Reminder

I would like to acknowledge my thanks for a number of things.

A few weeks ago, I lost my wallet at the Water Street parking lot. After a few horrendous moments, I retraced my steps and was rewarded by the fact that a wonderful person(s) returned my wallet (intact) to one of the shops.

In time for New Year resolutions, I realized (re-learned) a few things:

Slow down.

Focus.

Be in the present.

And be grateful for living in one of the best places on the planet.

I work at Fighting Chance in Sag Harbor and would welcome meeting the wonderful person, in person, to thank them.

With the world in chaos, there still is a lot to be grateful for.

All best wishes for the New Year and caring for each other.

Nancy Greenberg, Sag Harbor

Choosing Sides

Donald Trump has repeatedly proposed to allow Medicare to “negotiate like crazy” on prescription drugs. Now, he is backtracking. Was this all showmanship? He probably realizes that skyrocketing drug prices will be an issue in 2020.

Here is where we stand.

HR3 is the House bill that recently passed, 230-192, with unanimous Democratic support. This bill requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs; current law prohibits the CMS from doing so. CMS must negotiate maximum prices for insulin products and expensive brand-name drugs that do not have generic competition.

In addition, the negotiated maximum price may not exceed 120 percent of the average price in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. This is meant to stop drug companies from ripping off Americans, while charging other countries less for the same drugs. Drug manufacturers that fail to comply are subject to penalties.

The bill also reduces annual out-of-pocket costs for patients to $2,000. Also, the Congressional Budget Office claims that HR3 would lower health insurance costs for employers and increase federal revenue by about $45 billion a year, because employer insurance premiums would decline, and those savings would manifest in increased taxable wages.

Sounds reasonable, right? Of course, pharma disapproves, and its arguments have become the Republican rallying cry: HR3 would stifle innovation and new drug development.

It’s exactly the ageless claim I have been hearing for over 40 years from the pharma industry — a claim meant to stifle price controls. I say this having worked with pharma companies in drug development as an outside collaborator and consultant: Note that every other first-world country has price controls, and their pharma industries do quite well. Note also that much of the “innovation” in this country comes from government-funded research grants (tax dollars). Pharma often gets a freebee when they pick up a promising project and help carry it to fruition (I’m thinking of anti-HIV drugs, for example).

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin voted against HR3 and is one of the standard-bearers of the pharma party line. He’s covering himself politically by expressing support for a watered-down Senate bill, which has little chance of passage, even in the Senate.

Although one HR3 opposition group calls itself Voters for Cures, it is clear who they really are: They complain that “these drastic policies would siphon $1 trillion from biopharmaceutical innovators over the next 10 years.” And Lee Zeldin is on board, writing: “House Democrats’ legislation stifles medical innovation.”

One trillion dollars for big pharma? That’s your money.

By opposing HR3, Lee Zeldin has voted for the drug companies, against drug price controls and against the interest of his constituents.

David N. Posnett, M.D., East Hampton

Dr. Posnett is an emeritus professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York — Ed.

Conflict Of Interest

The commercial fishing industry has recklessly created fisheries depletion and fisheries bycatch, and is a leading contributor to shoreline and ocean pollution. The industry seemingly has no respect for the sentience of the oceans’ inhabitants, given their barbaric and archaic techniques for capture, and, as the literature suggests, the industry provides food products that contain mercury, microplastics and other toxins.

Yet the Town of East Hampton website promotes commercial fishing via a picture of commercial fishing vessels. Sylvia Overby told me they were part of the Montauk fleet.

The Town of East Hampton should be industry neutral and shouldn’t be promoting any industry on its website, especially an industry like the commercial fishing industry that creates so many negative externalities. The town’s shorelines are polluted with commercial fishing debris and bycatch that I unfortunately come across too frequently, and that no one seems to clean up, not even the Town of East Hampton.

Why doesn’t the town show these pictures on its website? Or clean their shorelines of the commercial fishing equipment debris and bycatch? Could there be a conflict of interest within the administration of the Town of East Hampton with respect to their promotion of the commercial fishing industry? Are any town administrators connected to or involved with the commercial fishing industry in any way?

The Town of East Hampton seems stuck in the past and needs to evolve.

Randy Johnston, East Hampton

 

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