Why two Americans got Ebola treatment | Aug. 10, Perspective
Drug therapy and liability
As a medical student and a resident at the University of South Florida Department of Internal Medicine, we were fascinated by the Tampa Bay Times discussion of the ethics of treating Ebola patients with an experimental agent. The article overlooked an important piece of history.
In 1996, during a meningitis outbreak in Kano, Nigeria, Pfizer pharmaceuticals provided a new antibiotic, Trovan, to the victims. In a blended humanitarian and research effort during a severe outbreak, Pfizer was able to successfully treat 94 out of 99 children with Trovan. Although life-saving treatment was administered and most survived, the gratitude was short-lived. A local medical doctor accused Pfizer of conducting an experimental trial without proper government approval. Over the next 10 years, Pfizer faced multiple legal battles resulting in a $75 million settlement and multimillion dollar legal expenses. This case gives us further insight into decisions about the ethics of using experimental drugs in treating Ebola. It is obvious that pharmaceutical companies will be wary of donating experimental medication to an area with a legacy of litigation.
Kathryn Rodriguez and Dr. Vindya Gunawardena, Tampa
Learning from chaos in Missouri | Aug. 15, editorial
Until 2008, I lived in Ferguson, Mo., and I worked toward stabilizing the community. Back in 1967, I was a college sophomore spending my summer in my hometown of Detroit when the riots occurred. In the 1970s I worked in public housing complexes in another city where racial tensions were so heightened that the police refused to respond to emergency calls.
Armed troops with bayonets drawn didn't work in Detroit. Heavy-handed tactics didn't work in public housing. And Ferguson and St Louis County police armed tactics didn't work either.
When will we learn? Tensions are reduced when people on all sides of issues begin to talk to each other, get to know each other, and work toward solving problems. Police need to get out of their cars, talk to people on the street, and know people in their communities by their first names.
I have known many police officers over the years. The highly effective cops that I knew always said that their work was more social work than busting heads. But police work often attracts people who like the power that a commissioned officer has. The only way they know how to solve problems is to use force. So in 2014, much of our country looks just like it did in the 1960s and 1970s. That's sad.
Richard Cavanagh, Holiday
Pop music lives on | Aug. 10, Latitudes
Incomplete top 10s
Are you kidding me? Although there were a few gems among the "10 greatest" song lists that spanned six decades of popular music in this article, I find it hard to believe that not a single song was selected from any of these artists: Stevie Wonder, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Elton John, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Jay Z, the Carpenters, Dave Mason, Elvis Costello, the Commodores, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Four Seasons. To quote Ms. Franklin, "You better think."
Peggy McCabe, St. Petersburg
Who's behind calls? It's Lee | Aug. 15
Reminder of record
Harry Truman's thinking matured, and he grew from sergeant's rank in a segregated American army to the president who desegregated the armed forces. Lyndon Johnson, who voted against every piece of civil rights legislation in sight while a senator, became the movement's champion as president. We would all be better off had George W. Bush changed his mind about Iraq. This is not the 1990s, and America's views have shifted radically on rights for gays and abortion; should politicians not change and grow, as well?
But most of all, the focus on Charlie Christ's views reminds us that our current governor has been all over the lot on Medicaid expansion, environmental protection, education spending, and voters' rights — all within the space of four years. Thanks, Sen. Tom Lee, for the reminder!
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Doubts on plan's benefits
A recent flyer in the mail promoting votes to increase the sales tax is disturbingly misleading. The literature implies it will be a "tax swap" that will reduce property taxes while increasing the sales tax. If it does as stated, then the "property owners" will benefit from reduced property taxes while the entire population, including the property owners, will pay more tax on everything they buy. This benefits the property owners and penalizes everyone else.
I would never use the rail system. Let's say I drive to the station, pay to park my car, pay to ride the train, pay a cab (twice) to take me to my destination and back, pay to ride the train back, get in my car and drive home, what have I accomplished? Used much more time and spent much more than had I just driven to Clearwater in the first place.
Dave Fagen, St Petersburg
Cars still a necessity | Aug. 14, letter to the editor
A lack of balance
The well-written letter last week saying that cars have less utilization in many cities than in Pinellas did not imply that cars are not necessary. Most large municipalities rely on a combination of buses, trains and cars to efficiently transport its citizens for work and leisure activities.
The automobile industry is an important and necessary part of our economy. So much so, that our federal government issued loans to General Motors and Chrysler to make sure they became and remained financially viable. And the United Auto Workers played a major part of the restructuring of the companies so American cars continue to be made by American workers.
The problem in Pinellas is cars are almost the exclusive means of travel. The Greenlight Pinellas plan will establish a healthy balance of buses, trains and cars to provide improved transit options while reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
The balance of buses, trains and cars that will result if Greenlight passes will benefit all Pinellas residents.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg