WASHINGTON - The debate over drug prices is "radicalizing" Americans' attitudes toward pharmaceutical companies, according to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.

In a conversation with members of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director last week, Shalala stressed the importance for senior citizens, and for pharmaceutical companies, of enacting a Medicare prescription drug benefit. She warned that the "whole issue is being radicalized," and said that "attitudes toward pharmaceutical (companies) are turning in a way that I find uncomfortable."