Fans of baseball, of poetry, and of clear data about over-thecounter drugs—talk about a range of subjects!—were among those who asked questions or shared observations about articles in previous issues of the magazine.
A matter of facts
I just finished reading "Patients deserve data about drugs" and also watched all of the associated web-extras. What an excellent reporting job on this important work being done at Dartmouth!
I am always surprised by the lack of context the public seems to have around nutrition and food; my work is focused on bringing that insight to the members of the Hanover Consumer Co-op. It's inspiring to see it happen with drug information on the scale Woloshin, Schwartz, and Welch are doing it.
I have one question. For over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, a drug facts box is currently provided on the package—as illustrated on the FDA website—but it doesn't include the effectiveness data that the Dartmouth group recommends for prescription drugs. When the FDA approves the drug facts box for prescription medications, will it also cover OTC drugs?
Mary Saucier Choate, M.S.
Choate is the food and nutrition educator for the Co-op Food Stores in Hanover and Lebanon, N.H. The Dartmouth researchers who are testing the drug facts box responded to her question as follows: "We are currently working only on prescription drugs (we were not involved with the existing OTC box). It would be great to do it on over-thecounter drugs, too—which, as this letter-writer notes, currently don't provide such information—but that will be a whole other project!"
The essay in your Spring issue about Lou Gehrig caught my attention because I knew the physician who cared for him at
home in the final stages of his illness. The physician's name was Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and he was medical director of the Rip VanWinkle Clinic in upstate New York.
He spoke with me on several occasions in the 1970s about what a great man and patient Gehrig was, and what an honor it had been to care for him and to be supportive of him and his wife, Eleanor. He said Gehrig was very aware of the facts about his illness and its dire prognosis.
While I can imagine Caldwell doing everything in his power to be supportive and caring, I cannot imagine him ever misleading Lou and Eleanor Gehrig when the patient's trajectory went downhill.
Also of note regarding the last issue is the fact that Dr. Bill Boyle, who is pictured on page 11 (see "Memo to supply room: Order more halos"), is the son of a former patient of mine.
Joseph L. Dorsey, M.D.
Were we out in left field?
I particularly liked the essay in the Spring issue about Lou Gehrig, whom I so idolized during my boyhood that I tried, without success, to learn how to throw a ball with my left hand.
I thus couldn't help but wonder why the picture chosen to accompany the piece was not a left-handed first-baseman's mitt instead of a right-handed fielder's glove.
Harvey Mandell, M.D.
Oops—it appears that we struck out on this one. We fact-check our contents carefully, but somehow it didn't occur to any of us to correlate the kind of glove in the illustration with the kind that Gehrig wore.
When we shared Mandell's astute observation with the essay's author, medical historian Barron Lerner, M.D., Lerner responded as follows: "Don't feel bad. Gary Cooper [who played Gehrig in the movie Pride of the Yankees] was right-handed, which caused all sorts of problems for the movie's director. One account of it notes that 'Cooper had one liability, though; he was right-handed, while Gehrig was lefthanded and batted accordingly. Cooper had to be able to bat lefthanded to look realistic, but he was unable to develop a natural-looking swing. In the end, film editor Danny Mandell came up with a solution. Cooper batted right, but ran to third base rather than first. The film was flipped over in the editing process for those few shots, which gave the impression of a left-handed batter running to first.'"
Many thanks to Mandell for his good . . . ahem . . . catch. We'll try to be more on the ball in the future.
For some years now I've received Dartmouth Medicine regularly but never quite understood why, I never attended Dartmouth Medical School, nor do I remember ever giving money to DMS. I