A heartbreaking article buried deep in the Star Tribune ought to have made it to the front page: Vincristine, an essential, lifesaving bedrock drug for treatment of childhood cancers, is becoming so scarce that doctors warn they might have to ration doses (“Key cancer drug for kids grows scarce,” Nov. 17). Why? Because it is not profitable enough for pharmaceutical companies to produce in adequate quantities. The “business decision” by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, a company with $18.9 billion in revenue, to cease production has left Pfizer as the sole supplier. Now Pfizer is blaming manufacturing problems for the shortage, indicating that production must run at peak capacity for them to turn a profit. No other drug manufacturer is stepping in to help. Exasperated parents and dedicated care professionals are powerless, left only to hope that something changes. If there is anything that screams of the utter failure of our health care system that places profit above all else, even the lives of children with cancer, this is it.
I am trying to picture the scene where people sat around a table at Teva and made a decision that they were going to stop producing this drug, knowing that it will end or severely endanger the lives of countless innocent children. Did anyone object? Who are these people?
Sadly, this is hardly an isolated case, with many other lifesaving drugs routinely unavailable to people simply because the price is too high. Is the endless and absolute pursuit of profit so sacred that nothing can be done?
Incidentally, Teva made another business decision around the same time as they chose to stop producing vincristine: They decided to pay their CEO $32.5 million last year.
Shame on them and shame on our elected policymakers who refuse to stop this insanity.
Ed Murphy, Minneapolis
Macalester founder’s harm was worse than an offensive viewpoint
In the story “Macalester may nix Neill name” (Nov. 16), the reporter refers to “battles in communities and on campuses ... over prominent buildings and landmarks named for historical figures with views on race and gender that offend some modern sensibilities.” I would challenge this characterization in two respects.
First, Macalester College founder Edward Duffield Neill and others were people in positions of power who exercised their views through decisions that had real impact on others. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge that their “views” had very immediate, concrete negative consequences for people in the past. So to situate any offense only in modern times is to suggest that those suffering in the past had no awareness of their inferior condition, and to dismiss their struggle with and resistance to their situation.
Second, this is not about the offense to “sensibilities,” but the very real harm experienced by marginalized people into the present. When Neill treated Native Americans and women as lesser people in his time, he helped build the conditions for the inequities people experience today. It would have been more to the point to say that Macalester taking Neill’s name off the building is a meaningful step toward honoring those who suffered past wrongs and a courageous decision toward fostering a just environment for the supportive learning and self-expression of all students.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond.
Nina Clark, Minneapolis
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The students of Macalester College did the right thing to demand that the name of the racist Edward Duffield Neill be erased from the Humanities Building, but this is only a first step (“Macalester removing Neill’s name,” Nov. 19). The DeWitt Wallace Library, named for the right-wing founder of Reader’s Digest, remains, as does the Weyerhaeuser Memorial Chapel, named for the lumber baron who did enormous environmental damage to northern Wisconsin. There is the elitist Summit Avenue running through campus. And then there is the murderous Clan MacAlister of Scotland whose bloody history is glorified by the college. Read your Scottish history and any decent person will be horrified by the MacAlisters’ invasion of the island of Bute in 1603 where they ravaged the property of a widow Marion Stewart and committed atrocities in neighboring villages. Neill said hateful things but he didn’t go roving around Minneapolis slaughtering Swedish farmers.
The college’s name should be changed to Taoyateduta in honor of Little Crow, a hero of the Dakota Uprising, and it should put away the bagpipes. Bagpipes were intended to inspire men to homicide, as anyone can tell from listening to them. Substitute flutes.
Garrison Keillor, Minneapolis
About-face does peace no favors
The Trump administration’s declaration that Israel’s West Bank settlements do not violate international law (“U.S. reverses four decades of policy on West Bank,” front page, Nov. 19) may please Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the far right, but it’s not doing peace between Israel and the Palestinians any good. If Netanyahu is forced into a third round of elections, he hopes to stay out of jail and remain prime minister. He believes this U.S. declaration could garner enough votes to allow him to form a government, something he’s twice failed to do. But in looking out for himself, he is dooming the Israeli public to more decades of rockets and army service and failure to live up to either Jewish and democratic values or the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
The Trump administration, which officially deplores interference in U.S. elections by a foreign power, is doing just that — interfering in Israeli politics and in Israel’s ability to approach her neighbors with a peace proposal. Just another piece of the Trump administration’s disastrous foreign policy.
Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis
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The hubbub over the Trump administration’s decision to reverse the U.S. policy labeling all Israeli settlements illegal brings to mind the line, “Wake me when peace breaks out.” Palestinian and other leaders claim the change is an impediment to peace, that it “undercut[s] any chance of a broader peace deal” (whatever that means), that it comes “at the expense of the Palestinian quest for statehood,” and that, according to a statement from the European Union, it “erodes the viability of ... prospects for lasting peace.”
But the facts tell a different story. They tell us that the settlements have never been the reason why the Palestinians are stateless and there is no peace. There were no settlements when the Arab countries attacked Israel at its birth in 1948. There were no settlements in 1956 when Egypt closed the Suez Canal to all shipping. There were no settlements in 1967 when several Arab countries attacked, vowing to push Israel into the sea.
What stood in the way of peace and Palestinian statehood on those occasions is the same thing that stands in the way of peace today — the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel as a free and independent Jewish state. The new policy merely says the decision on the legality or illegality of the settlements is for the parties themselves to resolve as part of an overall peace agreement. It is that policy, not the policy of the Obama administration, which let pass a United Nations resolution that urged an end to the illegal settlements only days before he left office, that may lead to meaningful negotiations regarding peace and Palestinian statehood. So wake me when those negotiations begin.
Ronald haskvitz, St. Louis Park
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