Dangerous Drug

Contempt for Mirapex and the FDA: The Houston Press, and Todd Spivak in particular, are to be commended on the recent story on the havoc wreaked upon an unsuspecting, already-troubled segment of our population -- Parkinson's disease patients -- by the makers of a dopamine agonist called Mirapex ["Overstimulated," September 15].

My life previous to Mirapex was one I was proud of: I was with an intelligence agency attached to the U.S. defense department; I was in a responsible position; I held some of the most sensitive security clearances and accesses that exist in the U.S. government. I was required to take polygraph examinations and to undergo regular background investigations aimed at ensuring that my personal life and behavior were beyond reproach, and that I was worthy of the trust placed in me by my country. I had little or no interest in gambling, and never spent more than $3 or $4 a month on it. My credit rating was outstanding.



After Mirapex, I was a lying, deceitful, totally degenerate gambler and a miserable thief, hanging around casinos day after day, my eyes fixed on the floor, looking for lost slot machine tokens. I pilfered wherever I could in order to feed my gambling habit. Never before in my life had I written a bad check or come anywhere near depleting a credit card. While in my drug-addled state with Mirapex, however, I had checks bouncing all over town, and I maxed out several cards. My finance charges alone were staggering. I lied, on a regular basis, to my wife, my brother, my bankers and my stockbroker, telling every falsehood I could think of to obtain more money to gamble with. I was in a horrible downward spiral, with no solution in sight.

Then came Dr. Mark Stacy's report in August 2003, and my life was saved. Stacy linked Mirapex with self-destructive compulsive gambling behavior in a landmark study in Phoenix. This research was recently validated by Dr. Leann Dodd at the Mayo Clinic.

Since stopping the use of dopamine agonists entirely, I have not gambled a single penny on anything. I can drive right past a casino without feeling the slightest urge to go inside. I have no interest in gambling whatsoever. My credit rating has been restored and I am solvent again, but far behind where I was pre-Mirapex.

My contempt for Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim, the makers of this drug, knows no bounds. Since 1999, there has been mainstream reporting, mostly from Europe, linking this class of drugs to compulsive gambling. The Web is chock-full of stories like mine -- some even worse. Yet the drug companies are actively marketing this poison to additional audiences: people afflicted with restless-leg syndrome and fibromyalgia. Nothing is allowed to stand in the way of even greater profits, no matter who is hurt.

Lest I forget -- I must ration my contempt and save some for the FDA and my elected officials in Washington, D.C. All of them can be best described by the term "teats on a boar-hog."

Again, thanks for the article. You have saved countless others.

Joseph Neglia
Millersville, Maryland

Making Meth

Chemical imbalance: Every journalist need not be well versed in chemistry. He should know his limits, and have his work reviewed by someone technically savvy. This goes double for the editor. Josh Harkinson appears to be a talented writer; the story is gripping ["Cranked," September 1]. But the chemistry is not credible. Yes, we've read the same things before, for a number of substances. Some people in drug enforcement embellish the facts a bit, whether from ignorance or because they think the plain truth isn't already scary enough. But regardless of how many times you repeat something, true and false never switch sides. Show me an open coffee carafe holding both anhydrous ammonia and sulfuric acid, and I'll know that I've died, I'm not on the A-list, and hell has indeed frozen over.

B.G. Young

Katrina Aftermath

DeLay is an idiot: I just wanted to thank you for your dignified, thoughtful coverage of Katrina ["Katrina & The Waves," September 8]. It was a welcome contrast to the television media drama. After hearing so many thousands of different perspectives on the tragedy, it was refreshing as always to hear Congressman Tom DeLay's comments. In an article on September 9, the Houston Chronicle detailed the good congressman's visit to the Astrodome.

"...DeLay stopped to talk with three young boys resting on cots. The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, 'Now tell me the truth, boys, is this kind of fun?' They nodded yes, but looked perplexed."

Perhaps someone should take this idiot out of his home in the middle of the night, leave him on a bridge for five or six days without food and water, remove him from his children and wife for a few days with no way to know if they're alive, and then ask him if he's having fun. I can't even begin to communicate my disgust. Maybe you all could do an interview with him and find out what he was thinking.

Susan Shafer

No dignity: I, like many others across the city, was deeply moved to see the amount of suffering the people of New Orleans had to endure during the days following Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent breach in the levee system. With New Orleans being so close, a Houstonian can only imagine, "What if that had been us?" At least I know I've tried to keep that in mind as I've found ways to be of service to those in need. It's clear, however, that your photographer for the "Katrina & The Waves" story did not keep that in mind as he snapped a photo of a naked man (unbeknownst to him) just trying to get cleaned up after a horrendous ordeal. What if that had been you? If you'd lost everything, and maybe even some loved ones, wouldn't you have appreciated a little dignity amid the madness? If a picture is worth 1,000 words, your shot included the words "We don't give a damn about what you've been through; this will look great in our paper."

Angela M. Henry

Is this the way we treat our guests? As a man is displayed with his vertical smile on page 17 of your paper, I must ask, is this exploited suffering or cultural enrichment?

Does ownership of a printing press give you the right to publish ass-naked photos of victims? Or can anybody enter restrooms and snap ass-naked photos of anybody?

Paul Pappas
Sugar Land

Outraged: I usually don't write letters of disappointment or read your periodical, but the picture that was shot and reproduced on page 17 regarding the hurricane victims really outraged me. It's bad enough that, once again, the media is exploiting black people -- for example, calling them "refugees" and insinuating that they are animals because of their previous conditions. Your periodical has added to this madness by showing a grown man naked and bathing himself.

Loretta Olison

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