DON'T LOOK FOR SCAPEGOATS AT NETSCAPE
Making Marc Andreessen the scapegoat won't fix Netscape Communications Corp. ("The education of Marc Andreessen," Cover Story, Apr. 13). Netscape did not falter due to lack of technical leadership, and no amount of technology vision will fix its current problems. The challenges the company failed to live up to were fundamental marketing and business issues.
Netscape missed revenue targets because it failed to understand marketing, its competitors, and its customers. It missed product-development schedules because it tried to compete in too many markets and too many businesses. The answer is not delivering more and more quicker and quicker. The answer for Netscape is delivering less better and faster. Netscape should shed its Netcenter business, not invest in it; win the Web-server battle, not settle for being a bit player; and lead the E-commerce revolution, not follow it.
President and Chief Executive
Palo Alto, Calif.Return to top
RIFKIN: THE PROPER PATH FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY
In "Taking on the gene tinkerers" (Books, Apr. 13), Joan O'C. Hamilton made a number of comments that are incorrect. While I am critical of some scientists and corporations and certain types of experimentation, I make the point in the book that "most of the molecular biologists engaged in gene research are motivated as much by their desire to make a meaningful contribution to science and enhance the human condition as they are by dreams of financial rewards."
The fact is, while I applaud some of the new breakthroughs in biotechnology, I am critical of other uses, such as the uncontrolled release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment, the extension of intellectual-property rights to the genetic blueprints of millions of years of evolution, and the discriminatory use of genetic information by employers and other institutions in hiring and job promotions.
Finally, Hamilton dismissed my discussion of "soft path" technological approaches as "bio-babble." The "soft path" to exploiting the new genetic science, ranging from organic, sustainable agriculture to preventive health technologies and practices, might prove a more efficacious and less risky approach to harnessing breakthroughs in genetic science. Organic agriculture is the fastest-growing sector of the food industry--with sales expected to exceed $4 billion this year--while the preventive health market is growing even faster. There is more than one way to organize genetic commerce in the coming Biotech Century.
Foundation on Economic Trends
WashingtonReturn to top
THE BENEFITS OF CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS
"Is good marketing bad medicine?" (Science & Technology, Apr. 13) is an incomplete account of a major public-health issue: high blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) play a valuable role in the treatment of hypertension because physicians have found them to be effective in lowering blood pressure, with fewer side effects compared with older drugs such as beta blockers. Because they are well tolerated, CCBs can be used safely in a broad range of antihypertensive patients.
Fundamentally, that's why CCBs are used regularly by physicians and preferred by many patients. The benefits of CCB treatment were demonstrated in a National Institutes of Health trial that showed more CCB patients remained on their medicine after four years than patients taking a beta blocker, ACE inhibitor, or diuretic. The safety of CCBs has been reviewed by the Food & Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and other medical organizations.
Joseph M. Feczko
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group
New YorkReturn to top