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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Shame on companies that profiteer off live-saving medical devices

Mercy medical ship
Sailors assigned to the Navy hospital ship Mercy treat the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities Sunday.
(U.S. Navy)

To the editor: Every day we are hearing the governors of our states complaining that the cost of critical supplies like masks and ventilators have been skyrocketing from one day to the next. (“Amid coronavirus, Army vets fought to mass produce $100 ventilators. They hit roadblocks,” March 29)

Why are manufacturers being allowed to inflate their profits from this health emergency? If a company was making a fair return for its product yesterday, then that should be the price, regardless of increased demand.

Our access to lifesaving healthcare, and providers’ access to supplies that keep them safe, should not depend on whether the state can outbid neighboring states. It is time for this federal government to impose wartime price constraints.

Carol Gendel, San Marcos

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To the editor: While the coronavirus is giving rise to so much suffering and personal sacrifice, it is disgusting to see enterprises like Vortran Medical withhold its inexpensive respirators from widespread reproduction as it dickers for the highest price.

The lessons from the current fiasco start with requiring the federal government to accept its responsibility to suitably prepare for inevitable crises. This includes planning beforehand; requiring industry, if needed, to produce necessary supplies; and quashing efforts to profiteer.

Many are pointing out that the same approach should be applied to climate change, whose effects could dwarf those of the coronavirus. The federal government should be heading off the worst outcomes and guiding preparations to deal with the effects that we know are coming.

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The coronavirus reinforces the dictum that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Grace Bertalot, Anaheim

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To the editor: If a distillery is willing to repurpose its equipment to manufacture hand sanitizer instead of gin and vodka, then it is even more disgusting that a company that owns plans for ventilators that could be made using 3-D printers is asking tens of millions of dollars for those plans.

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Americans should shun every product made by Sacramento-based Vortran Medical until it puts lives before profits. To charge a reasonable amount for those plans could, and probably would, allow the ventilators to be made and still earn Vortran a profit.

Anne Beaty, Los Angeles


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