Pharmac is being criticised (NZ Herald, December 18) for failing to move quickly enough on public concern that a brand of epilepsy medication – Logem - is associated with deaths among those who have switched to it from the existing brands (Lamotrigine and others, all of which are pharmaceutically equivalent).
It is reassuring that the head of Epilepsy New Zealand, Ross Smith, is reported as saying that we need to keep an open mind about whether a causal link has been proven in this case (now with the coroner).
In recently completed doctoral research I co-supervised into exactly this issue – the introduction of new brands for epilepsy competing with Lamotrigine (just over 10 years ago) – we found that the death rate among those who stuck with the original brand was the same as those who switched to the new ones (just under one per cent).
In other words, deaths do occur among patients on epilepsy medication - unfortunately – but it does not seem to be related to the brand of medication being taken, or any switch between brands, even while patients do perceive and report some side effects in these circumstances.
Peter Davis, Emeritus Professor in Population Health and Social Science, University of Auckland.
• Pharmac knew of epilepsy deaths for weeks but stayed silent
• Calls for answers about Pharmac delay after epilepsy deaths
• Opposition turns its sights on Pharmac funding
• Patient advocacy group demands doubling of Pharmac budget to fund life-saving treatments
Your editorial (NZ Herald, December 13) spoke about the importance of the fourth estate (print media). Audrey Young (Weekend Herald, December 7) and Lizzie Marvelly (Weekend Herald, December 14) told us why, their headlines warning respectively "Why election 2020 is going to be ugly" and "National catches ugly political virus".
Desperate to regain the Treasury benches, the political opposition is using social media in an attempt to destabilise the Coalition Government and its leaders. There, unfiltered by a responsible editorial team, they find little need to moderate their malicious personal attacks and deliberate misinformation.
Is this the party of Keith Holyoake and John Marshall, when National presented the face of duty, dignity and integrity? And in more recent times, I don't believe John Key or Bill English would have a bar of these seamy initiatives which your columnists so rightly condemn.
David Howard, Pakuranga.
Brexiting is not new to England, only this time it has taken a lot longer. The first Brexit was instigated by Henry VIII nearly 400 years ago and was equally important.
The break with Rome and the Catholic church was as much about Henry's domestic arrangements as a move encouraged by the merchants towards economic independence from mainland Europe.
Of course Henry had a great advantage – he was the ruler and to disagree with him was usually bad for your health.
Cardinal Wolsey was given the job of finding a basis for separation but he failed and probably only died with his head on because he succumbed to illness on his way from York to London to face a charge of treason.
Let that be a warning.
Tony Sullivan, St Heliers.
The UK elections with the "landslide victory" for the Conservatives showed once again how undemocratic their first-past-the-post electoral system really is.
The Conservatives got 43.6 per cent of the popular vote, a change of +1.2 per cent, gained 66 seats and won an absolute majority in Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats got 11.6 per cent of the popular vote, a gain of +4.2 per cent or
more than one third, and lost almost half their seats.
Let us in New Zealand be thankful for MMP. No wonder that the National Party tried to get rid of it.
Hans B. Grueber, Wainui.
Your correspondent Michelle Hesketh exemplifies how wrong Labour and the left got it. The UK election had nothing to do with the NHS, Climate Change, austerity or the economy. It was about Brexit and nothing else. That is why Boris called for the election, that is why his campaign slogan was "Get Brexit Done", that is why he refused to discuss anything else. The election was essentially the second referendum on Brexit the remainers were demanding. After years of watching their MPs battle to deny the will of the people, the people of Britain have spoken emphatically.
Kent Millar, Blockhouse Bay.
National seems to be going for anything that draws a populist vote. Take the latest idea which is free bowel screening for Māori and Pasifika Kiwis from age 50.
Actually, I do support the idea but it should apply to all New Zealanders. No one is immune from it and it is a hideous disease.
Paul Beck, West Harbour.
Leighton Smith writes (NZ Herald, December 17) the "lies and corruption emanate mainly from ... the Democrats" regarding the impeachment hearings.
Did he hear or read the testimony of Trump's own ambassador to the EU? Did he pay attention to the testimony of long-term, non-partisan diplomats? If Smith cites the Wall Street Journal as America's "most trusted" newspaper, it should be noted the paper is part of Rupert Murdoch's empire, including Fox News. If I were to write a column about lies or truthful reporting, I wouldn't include a Murdoch property as a source.
Douglas Clark, Chula Vista, California.
In his opinion piece "We need to teach how to dismantle art of the lie" (NZ Herald, December 19), wherein he accuses the Democrats of "lies and corruption", Leighton Smith claims "Trump's only high crime and misdemeanour was that he won".
That is the feeble catchcry Trump supporters use when they are unable to defend Trump's poor behaviour. This claim ignores the fact that Trump is being impeached for behaviour committed since being elected to office, not because he won an election.
Furthermore, it is incongruous that this opinion piece was published on the same day the Herald online published an article titled "Analysis: The Biggest Pinocchio's of 2019", which quotes "[Trump] is a serial exaggerator (read liar), without parallel in US politics. He not only consistently makes false claims but also repeats them, in some cases hundreds of times, even though they have been proved wrong."
Trump is not a good example to use when accusing others of lying.
Graeme Williams, Taupō.
I enjoyed Leighton Smith's ironic and deeply satirical column (NZ Herald, December 17) on the art of the lie, lamenting the death of journalist objectivity.
Of many richly satirical lines there were two particular gems. Referring to the Washington impeachment proceedings he says "... the lies and corruption emanate mainly from one team. The Democrats." He then caps that with "Trump's only high crime and misdemeanour was that he won".
Maybe not quite in Steve Braunias' class yet but keep trying, Leighton.
David Sanders, Torbay.
Why do the NZ Police take charge of major disasters instead of Fire and Emergency, who would appear to have far more practical expertise in dealing with lifesaving emergencies? The police may have the managerial experience but, after the Pike River disaster and now the horrific White Island devastation, one has to question whether the wrong service is in charge. The NZ Police management seems to be too hampered by OSH regulations.
Both the Pike River and now White Island disasters occurred due to risks being taken by private enterprise for maximum monetary gain, risks that Occupational Safety and Health possibly should have been taking a closer look at but seemingly didn't.
However, when humans with expertise who personally know and calculate the risk to themselves wish to rush in to help after a disaster, they are stopped by police command enforcing OSH regulations. It would appear that some caught up in the White Island disaster have been given a second chance at life only due to the heroic actions of three helicopter pilots who acted on instinct before apparently being stopped by authorities. God save NZ should this country ever be invaded as OSH regulations would prevent us from fighting off any invading army.
David F Little, Whangārei.
A social conscience would see the need for banning assault rifles, the patently obvious logic of removing rapid-fire, human-killing purposely designed weapons supersedes the need to uphold a theoretical construct of democratic right, that some deranged person can exploit to take 50 more lives.
Richard Ghent, Freeman's Bay.
Short & sweet
On te reo
When New Zealand is about to become a republic, Rob Rattenbury should be nominated as the inaugural President. His views on te reo should be taken onboard by all persons living in New Zealand. John Mead, Waiheke Island.
If nothing else comes out of this disaster, tourists and day-trippers should not be allowed on the Island again. Rob Paterson, Mt Maunganui.
Does Leighton Smith believe that the Fox Network is always truthful, fair, balanced and unbiased? David Brown, Waiuku.
According to Leighton Smith, the lies and corruption emanate mainly from the US Democrats. Presumably he sources his truth from Breitbart. E J Bax, Epsom.
Move over Genghis, there's someone coming up on your right. Martin Evans, Whitford.
Thank you Dewi Preece - the only TV or radio announcer to show Colin de Grandhomme the courtesy of pronouncing his surname correctly. Jewele McLeod, Kohimarama.
Good try Jacarandas, but the picture-perfect pohutukawa win again. Rosemary Cobb, Takapuna.
On Tuia 250
The $23 million wasted on the Tuia 250 Celebrations would have been better spent on helping over worked and stressed hospital doctors and nurses. Bruce Tubb, Belmont.