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June 17, 2005


Benin Dakar

Re: BiDil the First Race-Based Medicine
Are Black Americans Encountering Another “Tuskegee" Experiment?

I can understand how some medications can be designed for persons who have a very specific genetic background. However, black Americans are not an isolated racial group. To the contrary, black Americans are probably one of the most genetically diverse groups of people who have ever existed.

Black Americans beyond having an eclectic genetic connection to the multiple peoples who inhabit West Africa, many black Americans have both European and Native American ancestry. And let us not fail to mention about blacks immigrating from Africa and the Caribbean to the United States, who become “black Americans”, once they reach these shores. Are medications made for “black Americans” beneficial to the newest arriving black Americans?

My brother, who is a black American, suffers with idiopathic torsion dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that has its highest incidence among the European Jewry. Many of his doctor’s are baffled that a black man has this rare disease, until they probe for my brother’s known genetic history. Our maternal great grandfather was a German Jew. Many black Americans have similar mixed ethnic identities, although we are socially and self-identified as black Americans.

We must be careful that the development of race based drugs like BiDil is not directed by misguided science. I hope that scientists are not allowing mistaken perceptions of race and pharmaceutical companies their greed to cloud the scientific process, by incorrectly manufacturing and marketing drugs based on race.

Moreover, we must ensure that the black community is not used for 21st Century medical experimentation, like blacks were used in the Tuskeegee experiment.

Benin Dakar
Duluth, GA

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