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Letter to the editor of the Toronto Star

Release Date: January 22, 2003
This letter is to clarify remarks attributed to me in your article of January 21, about GlaxoSmithKline’s proposal to restrict supplies of its medicines to Canadian pharmacies that ship to American customers. The article quotes me as saying that: “the real goal here is to preserve the American profit margins”. The quote is selected out of context and leaves the impression that Glaxo’s action is against patients’ interests. Glaxo has a moral responsibility to its shareholders, who have entrusted it with billions of dollars, to maximize the value of its business. This goal is well aligned with patients’ interests, because it gives the company incentives to continue to develop new medicines. Nor do I claim, as the article states, that the “wider issue is about the drug companies and the failure of the United States to control soaring drug costs for seniors and the poor”. Rather, most Americans have good access to prescription drugs, and a small proportion of them do not. Private discount programs serve their interests better than government ones do, and I encourage American lawmakers to support such programs negotiated by drug makers and voluntary associations that represent the needy.