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Houston Voice, No. 1225, April 23, 2004
File 011
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Houston Voice, No. 1225, April 23, 2004 - File 011. 2004-04-23. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 20, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7331/show/7312.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2004-04-23). Houston Voice, No. 1225, April 23, 2004 - File 011. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7331/show/7312

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, No. 1225, April 23, 2004 - File 011, 2004-04-23, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 20, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7331/show/7312.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, No. 1225, April 23, 2004
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date April 23, 2004
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 011
Transcript IiMIL.-U.1iI voice EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION Executive Editor CHRIS CRAIN E-Stor BINNIE FISHER - bfisl*eriatasloraoice.corn Production JOEY CAROLINA IRMA ALLEN, GEORGE WIDMER.RAV BERG Correspondents: LOU CH1BBAR0, JR., JOE CREA. ADRIAN BRUNE, LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN, MIKE FLEMING. MATTHEW HENNIE. RYAN LEE, BRIAN MOYLAN. KEVIN NAFF. KEN SAIN, CHRISTOPHER SEELY, STEVE WEINSTEIN Contribute!-, JOHNNY HOOKS, JOSEF MOLNAR, JASON VICTOR SERINUS, MUBARAK DAHIR, JA CHAPMAN. AND ARJAN TIMMERMANS PtwrtographerT- DALTON DEHART, KIMBERLY THOMPSON Webmaster ARAM VARTIAN SALES & ADMINISTRATION General Manager JASON WILSON jwrlsonahoustonvoice.com Account Executives DONA BOZKA ■ dtxakaalnxistonvoicecom JENNIFER HOLLAND - ihoHanrJitihoustonvoice.com DAVID TRUONG dtruong;n houstonvoice.com Classified Sales / Office Administrator JOHNNY HOOKS - jhooks.0 houstonvoice.com National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media • 212-242-6863 PubSsher-WINDOW MEDIA LLC Presderit- WILLIAM WAYBOURN Editorial Director-CHRIS CRAIN Chief Financial Officer- PAM AYRES Corporate Controller- BARNETTE HOLSTON Art Director-ROB BOEGER Director of Operations- MIKE KITCHENS National Director of Sales- STEVEN GUERRiNI MaricetiiKj Manager- RON ROMANSKI Director of Classified Sates NATHAN REGAN medianter CHARTER MEMBER Established 1974 as the Montrose Star. 500 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200 Houston, Texas 77006 (713) 529-8490 Fax (713) 529-9531 wwwiwusto-nvoicacom Contents copyright 2004 Office hours: 9 am. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays To submit a letter Letters should be fewer than 400 words. We reserve the right to edit for content and length. We will withhold names upon request but you must include your name and phone number for verification. Please send mail to Houston Voice, 300 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200. Houston. Teas 77006; fax (713) 529-9531 or e-mail to edrtordhoustonvcce.com. Opiroons expressed therein do not reflect those of the Houston Voice. All material m Houston Voice is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent ot Houston Voice. The sexual orientation ' rs writers and cartoonists ■ interred or implied. The s or pictorial representation *jir.ate the seiual orientation person or persons. It '■;.r,.-...„ -t of that i Forum HOUSTON VOICE APRIL 23, 2004 PAGE 10 editorial Allow imported HIV/AIDS drugs Abbott Labs' decision to raise by 500 percent the price of the AIDS drug Norvir underscores why the U.S. government must allow cheaper drugs to be imported into this country. Houston Voice accepts unsolicited editorial material but cannot take responsibility for its return The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or edit any s-**miss»n. All rights revert to authors upon publication Guidelines for freelance contributors are available upon request. Issue 1225 By MUBARAK DAHIR HE FEDERAL government should stop the special trade protectionism it has for pharmaceutical companies, and allow the legal import of cheaper, generic drugs. This issue has been a point of contention for years, for Americans with all kinds of illnesses, ranging from cancer patients to people with HIV and AIDS. Now — finally — thanks to a particularly outrageous move by Abbott Laboratories to raise the price of its AIDS drug, Norvir, to 500 percent of its previous cost, this issue is getting some serious consideration. Typically, whenever consumers and advocacy groups raise a stink and demand they be allowed to legally import drugs from Canada or Europe for a fraction of the price, there is a lot of government hand-wringing and more than just a little sweating from the drug companies. The federal government's claim that Americans' health would be at risk because it could not guarantee the safety of foreign- imported drugs seems spurious. Are we really supposed to believe that citizens of Canada and Western Europe are putting their health at risk for the cheaper drugs? We import all kinds of products from overseas, and they must undergo scrutiny for safety before they can be sold here. It seems unfathomable that the federal government couldn't devise regulations for the safe import of foreign drugs. The drug companies try to teU us that they don't make huge profits from the drugs, despite the often enormous cost difference between those same drugs here and in foreign countries. They also say that a lot of the money that is made off of existing drugs gets put back into research and develop ment, to work on discovering better drugs. While both the arguments from the drug companies and the federal govern ment have a grain of truth, none is strong enough to present unsolvable barriers to aUowing more affordable imported drugs into the United States. THE MAIN REASON WE DON'T HAVE cheaper, generic drugs in this country is simple: greed. The recent debacle over the AIDS drug Norvir illustrates why the government needs to stop pampering pharmaceutical companies, and start standing up for patients. Abbott Laboratories began marketing Norvir in 1996. At the time, it was only the second in a class of revolutionary drugs known as protease inhibitors, which radically changed the course of medical treatment for people with HIV and AIDS. In addition to the benefits of Norvir itself, doctors soon discovered this drug had the distinctive ability to enhance the benefits of other protease inhibitors. So Norvir also became widely used as a supplemental drug. Norvir soon became an integral part of the so-called "cocktail" of drugs that so many people with HIV and AIDS take. This made Norvir a huge success. Since its introduction, the total sales of Norvir have passed the $1 billion mark. Usually, as a drug becomes more widely used and more profitable, its price goes down, not up. But in January, Abbott Laboratories decided to raise the average price of the drug, used by tens of thousands of Americans with HIV and AIDS, from about $1,500 per year, up to about $7,800 per year. That means the same dose of the drug today costs five times more than it did a year ago. Compare the price here to the average cost of the same exact drug in Europe. The typical yearly cost of Norvir in Europe is somewhere around $700 to $750. That means Americans are now paying 10 times more for Norvir than are Europeans. THERE'S ANOTHER IMPORTANT factor in the Norvir debacle, too. The ini tial research and testing of the drug was made possible by a federal grant to Abbott Laboratories from the National Institutes of Health. That federal grant money came directly from taxpayers. "The grant was critical in allowing us to make the rapid progress that we made," Dr. John Erickson recently told the New York Times. Erickson was the former chief of Abbott Laboratories' drug research program. Taxpayer money subsidized Norvir. which went on to be a huge profit-maker for Abbott Laboratories, a company that now is turning around and charging the public exorbitantly high rates. The fact that Norvir was developed with the help of a federal grant is important for another reason, too: Part of the fine print in any such grant is that the government has the right to insist on "reasonable" prices for the discoveries made with its money A five-time, overnight increase in the cost of a billion-dollar, already-profitable drug is hardly reasonable. Activists are pressuring the government to use its leverage in the Norvir case, and there is some evidence that at least a few politicians are finally listening. The Department of Health & Human Services held a hearing Wednesday, April 14, on Norvir in particular, and on the question of cheaper imported drugs in general. The National Institutes of Health is also set to schedule hearings on the issues. At least six members of the House have signed a letter to petitioning Tommy Thompson, Hush's health secretary, asking him to assert the right to "reasonable" prices. One bill has already been introduced in the Senate to gradually allow imported drugs from Canada, Europe and Australia. And John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, has voiced his support of legalizing imported drugs. Activists are also encouraging a boycott of Abbott drugs. While Abbott has a monopoly on Norvir (and no one is suggesting that patients in need of the drug stop taking it to make a political statement), consumers can express their (lis pleasure with Abbott's pricing by purchasing other brands on drugs where Abbott has competitors. But in the long run, the solution to the problem of unaffordable drugs is to allow the import of foreign medicines. There's nothing like competition to keep down price gauging. Mubarak Dahir •M is editor of the Express Gay News in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, a paper affiliated with Ihis publication. He can be reached at mdahir@express- gaynews.com
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