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Dr John Patterson ('Do not blame pharmaceutical industry for drug bill woes', Letters, September 13) provokes me to raise an old chestnut once again. Does it really matter what we spend on drugs?

The pharmaceutical industry is one of Britain's last remaining successful major manufacturing industries. It makes good profits, supports research and medical publications, employs a lot of people, buys a lot of cars and so on.

If we used more cheap imported or generic drugs it may indeed save a little on the NHS drug bill, but how much would it reduce the Treasury take in corporation tax and tax on dividends and how much would Government costs be increased by paying for research registrars funded by the drug industry, redundancy and unemployment benefits for those put out of work and so on?

Would Britain really be better off if pharmaceutical research and manufacturing decamped to China?

Why is it that drug companies are regarded by society as bogey men and yet nurses are 'angels of mercy'?

Both derive their living from the treatment of the sick!

Dr Michael Blackmore

Ringwood, Hants

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