Robert Kuttner is wrong in his thesis that the legislative battle to bring Americans affordable prescription drugs is "shaping up as one of the great political issues separating liberals from conservatives" ["Bitter Pills for the Elderly Poor," op-ed, June 23].

Both liberals and conservatives in Congress are playing the prescription drug game to their advantage, and consumers are paying a premium. For example, right now drug giant Schering-Plough is pushing a bill through Congress (HR 1598) that would extend the patents on its allergy drug, Claritin, and seven other drugs. The bill would block the introduction of less costly competitors for three years, forcing Americans to pay more than $4 billion too much for medicine, according to Public Citizen.

Mr. Kuttner's theory portraying liberals as heroes and conservatives as goats is disproven by the list of the bill's sponsors, which includes the liberal likes of Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Conservative co-sponsors include Reps. Bill Archer (R-Tex.), Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Tex.).

It is unclear why liberals and conservatives are supporting a bill that would force millions more seniors to, as Mr. Kuttner says, "spend more money on prescriptions than on doctor bills." What is clear is that the left and right are putting special interests first.

STEVE APPEL

Los Angeles

The writer is director of the Campaign for Fair Pharmaceutical Competition.