By Jack Dreyfus
Reviewed by Rex A.
The book is an easy enough read, but is kind of a mess in the way it is organized and constructed. In fact, it is really 3 separate books. The first is Dreyfus's autobiography; a man of modest means who got rich in the stock market. In 1958, he went into depression [more of an anxiety disorder than a depression from the way he describes it], suffered for a long time, and through a series of coincidences, discovered that Dilantin provided immediate and lasting relief.
Dreyfus saw others benefit in similar ways, and the second part of the book relates his decades-long efforts to get the medical community, the drug companies and the federal government to take action. These efforts were ultimately frustrating--even after forming the Dreyfus Medical Foundation, spending substantial amount of his personal wealth, meetings with 3 Presidents, FDA Commissioners and, Surgeon Generals; and mailing bibliographies documenting thousands of international studies to a half-million doctors.
The problem, as I understand it, is that the FDA has no mechanism or authority to be proactive about the approval of drugs. So, even if someone discovered that penicillin, for instance, cures cancer, the FDA cannot on its own initiative take action on that claim. By design and by necessity, it must wait for a drug company or other research body to support claims of safety and effectiveness through the usual rigorous, expensive, and lengthy procedures. Since the patent on Dilantin ran out years ago, there simply is no financial incentive for anyone to bother with such enormously costly research. In lieu of that, thousands of independent studies world-wide provide anecdotal "evidence" of Dilantin's effectiveness in treating 70 different conditions. At least, that is the way I understand it. In the meantime, because Dilantin has FDA approval for one condition--epilepsy--physicians are free to prescribe it for any other conditions as they see fit.
This book is either the story of an unsung hero--or of a stubborn, compulsive man who had enough money to try to push around the Bureaucracy...and lost.
Perhaps it's a bit of both.
BTW, one of the claimed uses for Dilantin is easing withdrawal symptoms in alcohol and drug addiction.