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LETTERS

Commitment to protecting people

I am concerned that the title of the article mentioning our company, Acambis, paints an inaccurate picture (''Companies thriving on public's anxiety," March 22).

Acambis is involved in the development and production of vaccines and, as such, our goal is to help protect people from the risks of preventable diseases. We are committed to developing high-quality vaccines to protect individuals against both established and emerging illnesses.

Our work with new infectious diseases was evident last year when we became the first company to undertake human clinical trials of a West Nile virus vaccine. Our efforts to create vaccines against emerging threats also led to the development of a new smallpox vaccine.

As part of the US government's efforts to stockpile enough smallpox vaccine to provide a dose for every man, woman, and child, we have been manufacturing more than 200 million doses of our investigational smallpox vaccine.

Of course, we would all prefer to live in a world where there is no threat of smallpox being used as a bioterrorist weapon. Unfortunately, we don't. Our smallpox vaccine is being supplied to the federal government for emergency use, but we recognize that there are some individuals who, for a variety of reasons, would like to be able to receive a smallpox vaccination.

Acambis believes that, were our smallpox vaccine to be licensed and recommended for use by the regulatory authorities, we would have an obligation to supply the vaccine to those individuals under the supervision of a trained practitioner. Acambis's mission is simple: We want to save lives by preventing disease. We are proud that our vaccines will be able to keep people safe and give them peace of mind.

Gordon Cameron, CEO, Acambis

Cambridge

Renewed focus neededon energy conservation

Reporter Peter J. Howe's article is a tribute to the suspension not only of disbelief but of physics, engineering, and the state of national and world energy markets (''Bill seeks competitive rates on electricity," March 23).

State Representative Daniel Bosley's suggestions for further electricity reorganization reminds me of a noted congressman's response to the Arab oil boycott of the 1970s. When told that federal energy regulations had to be amended to recognize the cost of oil production, and that the law of gravity required that energy be expended to pump oil out of depleted domestic oil fields, the congressman asked, ''Can't the law of gravity be repealed?"

The past year has seen the worst confluence of American electric energy problems since the 1970s. There hasn't been an inch of progress toward improving electric energy reliability since the Aug. 14, 2003, blackout of 50 million people in the Northeast and Midwest.

Absent any policy of rational energy use, the 1990s saw a construction orgy of natural gas-fired electric generating plants, and natural gas continues to attain unprecedented high prices. What's Representative Bosley's suggested response? As if the failure of interstate transmission lines from Buffalo to Detroit wasn't an object lesson in the importance of coordination, Bosley wants to force residential customers to take electricity from one company's lines and be billed by -- and presumably serviced by -- a different out-of-state financial operator whose only connection to Massachusetts may be a call center in India. What is logically required is greater coordination and a renewed focus on energy conservation and energy management alternatives. What Representative Bosley suggests will guarantee the impossibility of such solutions.

Evan Wilner

Wilmington, Del.

Take the profitabilityout of the crime

The recent piece by columnist Steven Syre on how much should be considered adequate punishment for big money crimes missed an important point (''Dispensing justice," March 25). The crime should not be seen as profitable to those who later consider the same wrongdoing. If a bank robber has a 50 percent chance of getting convicted, and an average take of $5,000, then a fine/loss of productive ''free" time of less than $10,000 makes it a profitable enterprise. Right now executives will be strongly tempted to steal from their companies as it is so profitable.

David Grant

Winnipeg, Manitoba

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