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THE CURE CAN BE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE

In the dispute over the drug deferiprone (Ll), we believe that the victims are the patients (''The doctor vs. the drugmaker,'' Science & Technology, Nov. 30). Patients with thalassemia major are kept alive by blood transfusions every two weeks. These transfusions cause dangerous levels of iron. Patients have one drug that extends their life by removing excess iron levels before the effects of iron toxicity cause organ shutdown and early death.

The current drug available requires painful injections over a 12-hour period daily. The truth is that most patients give up on this treatment and succumb to an early death because administration of the drug is so difficult.

Issues regarding confidentiality and drug development are intellectually intriguing. However, the lingering debate regarding deferiprone has not addressed the need for an alternative treatment. We fear that the acrimony and dissent has divided the people most able to address these concerns and offer a consensus regarding the viability of this potentially life-saving treatment.

Ronald Iervolino
National President
Cooley's Anemia Foundation Inc.
Flushing, N.Y.


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