A REMARKABLE MEDICINE HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED: A Letter to President Reagan by lack Dreyfus


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An odd title, but then so is the book: a plea for wider use of one specific drug written principally for health professionals which draws on the author's own story to interest the lay reader--who can presumably influence his or her physician. (For the Reagan connection, read on.) The drug in question is Dilantin, most widely used for the control of seizures--which Dreyfus, the multimillionaire founder of the Dreyfus Fund, hit upon as the answer to his own travails. At age 43, as he explains in the first of the book's two distinct sections, he experienced a loss of interest in his business, inexplicable terror, and finally a full-blown depression. After several years' unsatisfactory treatment, he began taking Dilantin, speculating that a drug that controlled epilepsy by affecting the body's electrical balance could also relieve depression (which he thought might have a similar basis). When his symptoms were immediately relieved, he embarked on a layman's investigation of the drug--recommending Dilantin to others with similar problems and recording the results, establishing the Dreyfus Medical Foundation, funding independent research, and summarizing previous research data. All this is reported in the book's second half, which is addressed exclusively to medical personnel. For that readership, Dreyfus provides a good, thorough literature review--though there will be disagreements with some of his arguments. (Dilantin is more widely used--for heart arrhythmias and certain types of pain as well as for seizures--than he seems to believe; and it is not the drug of choice for other disorders he lists here.) Dreyfus also recounts his futile efforts to encourage the government or Parke-Davis, the original manufacturer, to carry out further research. Government officials, he writes, changed office too often to follow through on their professed interest in Dilantin; hence, one assumes, his opening, attention-getting letter to the newly-elected president. Dreyfus has marshalled his evidence creditably--and whatever the book's peculiarities, he may have devised the very means to put his message across.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Simon & Schuster