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May 29, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-05-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily -- Tuesday, May 29, 2001
Students at the *ACE Yn CIef AE Yr PgEditor
University of Michigan Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofth
420 Maynard Street majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, lettersaan
SAnn Arbor, Ml 48109 cartoons donot necessarily reflect the opinion of The-Michigan Dail

T he Food and Drug Administration
decided two weeks ago that the
popular prescription allergy drugs
Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec were safe
enough to be sold over-the-counter.
The FDA made the right move but it
did not consider the economic impact
of its decision. This decision should be
seen as a battle between drug compa-
nies and insurance providers: Two prof-
it-hungry giants unconcerned with
public health.
In one corner we have the drug com-
panies who are fearful that the change
in status of their expensive medications
will lower their profit margins. Accord-
ing to the Washington Post, a single
Claritin pill costs about $2.12 in the
United States, while in Europe -
where the medication has been sold
over the counter for ten years - it
costs about $0.70. The drug companies
argue that consumers will misdiagnose
their symptoms without a visit to a
doctor. This implies that U.S. citizens
are less capable of identifying hay
fever than their European counterparts.
Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec are adver-

Expensive drugs
Over-the-counter prices too high

tised as being safer and having fewer
side effects than cheaper, over-the-
counter drugs. But maybe it's this
advertising that is driving the price up.
According to IMS Health, a London-
based analyst, last year Schering-
Plough, the makers of Claritin, spent
$48 million directly marketing their
product. It is no wonder prices continue
to skyrocket.
Fighting for the reclassification are
the insurance companies who are tired
of shelling out money for prescription
allergy medicine. If the drugs are sold
over-the-counter, insurance will no
longer cover them. This hurts those who
depend.on insurance to help them with
medication. Even at $15 a bottle instead
of $50, the price can be out of reach for
Many doctors have also argued

against the change. Here too, profits
play a role. With the direct advertising
campaigns, many more people go to
doctors to request brand-name medica-
tion. Spending on prescription drugs
rose 19 percent last year, resulting in
record numbers at the doctor's office.
Today, they are fighting over a cure
for a runny nose and maybe that isn't
so important, but tomorrow the argu-
ment could be about an AIDS drug or a
cancer remedy. Major drug companies
have already waged war against compa-
nies that produce cheap, generic AIDS
drugs for sale in Africa. A life-and-
death situation for millions couldn't
draw a drop of pity from the drug com-
panies when it looked like it would cut
into profits.
All of these institutions are supposed
to be aiding the public, but when it

comes down to it, huge profit at th
cost of health is the bottom lin
Increasing use of effective but expen
sive new drugs has been a main caus
of the double-digit rise in health c
So, what is the right move? If ever
trail leads to higher consumer costs an
greater corporate profit, it means ou
system needs to change. A balance mus
be achieved between the insurance an
drug companies' need to turn profit
and the public's fundamental right to b
healthy. Claritin, Allegra and Zyrte
should be sold over-the-counter s
those without health insurance don'
have to drive to Canada to buy the sam
pills at fair prices. Insurance company
should pay for many of the well-est
lished over-the-counter drugs.
The battle being fought today is nc
being fought by the right people. Th
public should demand fair prices and
little compassion from those who hol
our health in their hands. Corporat
behemoths fighting over the margi
should not dictate our national healt

Fawed a nnd-nft
Schools should not have to support BSA
T he No Child Left Behind Act - ed. The case wore on until 1999, when
passed last week by the U.S. House the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in
of Representatives and currently Dale's favor. But the following June, the
awaiting consideration by the U.S. Sen- U.S. Supreme Court reversed the deci-
ate - has a deceptively simple title. Its sion, saying that forcing the BSA to
purpose, as summarized on Congress's allow gay scoutmasters would be forcing
legislative search engine, is "to close the them to endorse "homosexual conduct as
achievement gap with accountability, a legitimate form of behavior." While the
flexibility and choice so that no child is ruling did not specifically give the BSA
left behind." It's enough to make any the right to bar gay boys, it certainly left
legislator feel all warm and fuzzy inside. room for that interpretation.
However, despite the bill's apparently Local school officials have every
laudable goals, it contains at Ieast one right to condemn the BSA and to stop
noteworthy injustice that quietly them from congregating in their schools.
appeared on the version passed by the While the Equal Access Act passed by
House. An amendment was added Congress requires that all student-run
Wednesday that "prohibits the use of extracurricular activities in a given dis-
federal funds by any state or local trict be afforded equal access to facili-
agency that discriminates against the ties, the BSA is an adult-run, privately
Boy Scouts of America in providing funded organization and is not protected
equal access to school premises or facil- under this legislation.
ties".As long as the Supreme Court contin-
This amendment is an obvious attack ues to defend the BSA's right to discrim-
on the teachers' unions and school inate, the responsibility to speak up for
boards across the country that have equality will fall on private citizens. Per-
voiced their opposition to the BSA's haps if more schools would refuse time
notoriously anti-gay policies by resolv- and space to the BSA, the organization
ing that the organization is not welcome would be forced to re-consider its overt-
on their campuses. One such protest was ly discriminatory policies.
staged by the Plymouth-Canton teachers' If the No Child Left Behind Act is
union in November; the union signed a passed into law, the aforementioned
resolution asking the local school board amendment would punish courageous
to prohibit the BSA from assembling or teachers - like those in the Plymouth-
recruiting in the district. Canton district - that refuse to accom-
Although the BSA supposedly prides modate intolerant organizations. The
itself on molding young boys into honor- implications would be startling. Where
able, patrioticjyoung men, it has consis- would it end? How long would it be
tently ignored one of the basic tenets before other adult-run groups with prej-
upon which the United States was found- udiced practices started to demand equal
ed: "That all men are created equal." access to our children?
They did not believe, for example, The Senate should refuse to consider
that former scoutmaster and New Jersey the No Child Left Behind Act until the
resident James Dale was created equal. offending amendment is removed. They
Dale was expelled from his Eagle Scout should remember that passing this ver-
assistant scoutmaster position when the sion of the bill will leave behind gay
higher-ups learned he was gay. Dale children and children of gay parents,
sued in 1992, demanding to be reinstat- regardless of what its name implies.

igh iving
High-rise will benefit students, revitalize A2
S trolling through Ann Arbor within Furthermore, businesses that aren'
the next year, you may notice the multi-million dollar corporation
renovation of the vacant lot on the should also have the opportunity t
corner of S. State and Washington taste and survive the market of An
streets. Previously occupied by an Arbor. The independently owned restau
Olga's Kitchen restaurant, the building rants and retail stores that are freck
has been empty for about 14 years. Big throughout this town are treasured :
plans for the space emerged last Mon- their uniqueness. People come to An
day with a decision by Ann Arbor City Arbor to search for items not sold in tht
Council in favor of the development of generic shopping centers. State Stree
a new apartment building. should not become so exclusive tha
Upon completion, the structure will only wealthy chain stores can afford t
-add a tidy new apartment tower to Ann do business there; a day of explorinl
Arbor's list of housing options and and socializing on State Street shouk
eliminate the drafty vacancy - and be an experience unlike anything on
eyesore - currently taking up the cor- could do at every shopping mall in the
ner. country.
This eight-story addition to the Uni- Another concern about the new apart.
versity's downtown area will feature ments is that this will be the beginnmg o
retail on the first level and apartments a trend to transform Ann Arbor into
on levels two through eight. The new land of sky-rises. Surrounded by two.
apartments will provide a welcome story neighbors, the eight-story building
option for many students who have may appear out of place. The Planning
been unable to find close living quar- Commission voted not to recommend it
ters in the past. With some students because Ann Arbor prides itself on its
walking 15 or 20 minutes to get to small city traditions - traditions thai
class, the spread of basic campus hous- make it special and attractive. Despite the
ing can be extreme. These new apart- new building's landmark appearance, ii
ments will increase options for close still far surpasses the current ghost-to
campus housing but because of their building and makes good use of the
newness, it may not be the most afford- The only other recent offer for the loi
able for students. However, it will draw was for a one-story building; it was
more people to the downtown area as rejected because the Commission felt ii
well as students, and perhaps free up didn't use its space wisely. Although
other housing within reasonable prox- eight stories is tall for Ann Arbor, the
imity. new building is an good, economical
Despite the novelty of the building, choice for the corner.
the rent for the apartments needs to Overall, the apartment building will
remain reasonable. As such a close part add a healthier tone to downtown State
of campus, students shouldn't be driven Street. It will bring students to the he
out by exorbitant prices because it is land area making it a strong asset to t
they who would benefit the most from unity of the community. Best of all, it
the location. Besides, why would the will fill the run-down void that currently
University want such a large structure occupies the corner. Provided that rent is
so close to campus that is full of people kept reasonable in the new building, it
who aren't strong supporters of their will be a healthy addition to the down-
cause? town scene.

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