Officials’ snafus don’t justify abandoning Katrina’s victims

(Regarding article, “Tancredo slams Katrina spending,” Aug. 31.) I agree that much of the spending during hurricane Katrina was not done correctly, but it still does not change the fact that many American citizens lost their lives who should not have, no matter whose fault it was (federal government, state, city), and millions of us are still trying our best to get our families and homes, properties, etc., restored.

Our president and Congress have spent billions in Iraq, among several places where that money would have been better spent, WISELY, here in the U.S. where many of us have lived and worked all our lives, and we deserve better. There is no honest reason to stop helping those of us who are still not fully recovered but who are thankful to be still alive. Mr. Tancredo should be ashamed of his remarks or he should be involved in correcting the many errors that occurred, not blaming innocent American citizens.

From Helen Franklin, Harvey, La.

Absurd delays for cancer drugs

I enjoyed Jim Snyder’s piece, “First-tier Republicans skip cancer forum” (Aug. 28). I listened to Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talk, and I appreciate that crucial aspects of our war on cancer are funding the war and fixing issues with healthcare coverage.

However, another — I believe even more important — aspect is fixing the way the FDA approaches this war. It is because of FDA policies that the average time of drug development through trials now approximates 10 years, which is many lifetimes for some cancer patients. Congress, in 1997 legislation, did a nice job laying out a mission for the FDA and creating an “accelerated approval” pathway for drugs/therapies aimed at patients with late-stage cancer and little time to live.
Unfortunately, the FDA has chosen to ignore this mission and instead, has decelerated approval of new cancer therapeutics, particularly over the last few years. The question is how we can change this, which by itself will increase funding for new research and make the dollars spent on research far more productive. This is not about advocating a “lowering of the scientific bar” by the FDA, but rather, an embrace by the agency of the science and tools that are available to it for reviewing and approving these therapies, many of which are already shown safe and effective and yet are delayed time and again on absurd statistical technicalities.

Sen. Brownback’s ACCESS legislation might be an answer, as would adding some language as a rider to an upcoming bill that would “clarify” for the FDA what it should and should not be considering in reviewing these therapies. Clearly, the FDA is broken and in need of a fix, be that personnel or legislative or both.

From Scott Riccio, founding member, A Right to Live, Chicago

Homeland Security now the Panties Police

A Homeland Security agent in an airport told me that I didn’t have enough underwear in my bag to have been gone as long as I said I was.

Homeland Security: counting your underwear to fight terrorism.

From Jill Watson, Portland, Ore.