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A Slew Of Angles On Anti-Aging

"Selling the promise of youth" (Cover Story, Mar. 20) ignored the important achievements in anti-aging of the U.S. biogerontological community in recent decades. Several prominent biogerontologists believe that if adequate funding were available, human longevity could be extended anywhere from 10 to 20 years of vibrant life, free of aging- related diseases like cancer and cardiac illnesses, in the next 10 years.

However, the National Institute on Aging is starving for money for longevity research. Its total budget is about $1 billion, but longevity research receives only $20 million to $50 million -- most of the money goes to aging-related diseases. The principal reason is that Congress worries about the impact of extended human longevity on Social Security. Yet according to the March, 2005, report by the Trustees of Social Security & Medicare, the cost of Medicare will reach 6% of gross domestic product in 2024, exceeding that of Social Security. In 2025 it will amount to $1.3 trillion and in 2080, $14.75 trillion (in 2004 dollars) -- more than twice as high as the cost of Social Security. Extending human longevity, free of aging-related diseases, could significantly cut the cost of Medicare, though it would increase the cost of Social Security.

Victor Basiuk

Vienna, Va.

Boomers are going to follow their emotions with their pocketbooks. Where can I buy the stock?

Stephen D. Carter

Snellville, Ga.

Pharmacy compounding allows physicians to prescribe individualized treatments, including bioidentical hormones, to meet their patients' unique needs -- needs that are unmet by manufactured, one-size-fits-all products. State boards of pharmacy regulate the preparation of bioidentical hormones, and their ingredients are regulated nationally. In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment right of compounding pharmacists to market their preparations or medications. Still, pharmaceutical giants like Wyeth (WYE) falsely argue -- and stories like this one misleadingly report -- that the growth in the number of physicians and their female patients choosing bioidentical hormones over manufactured ones is evidence of illegal mass marketing.

Sales of Wyeth's hormone products are down significantly since a study linked them to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. And while women and their physicians appear to be searching for options, Wyeth is lobbying the Food & Drug Administration to protect its pocketbook.

This is not the first time Wyeth has done so. About 10 years ago the company successfully lobbied to keep a generic version of Premarin off the market. It would be a shame if Wyeth got away with this again.

L.D. King

Executive Director

International Academy of

Compounding Pharmacists

Sugar Land, Tex.

As there is no "scientific proof that these regimens actually slow down or reverse the aging process," I can only think that these are simply placebo pills for the people who take them.

Alexandra Martin

San Diego

Re "Why the web is hitting a wall" (Information Technology, Mar. 20): Imagine what would have happened when telephone service was evolving if consumers had to choose from a dizzying array of options, buy and install their own expensive equipment, fix it themselves if it broke, and worry about their conversations being monitored by criminals. I suspect that a large percentage of households would have opted not to have phone service. No wonder the Web is hitting a wall.

James J. Higgins

Manhattan, Kan.

"Net movie mogul" (Voices of Innovation, Mar. 20) illustrated a disturbing and widespread problem with corporate hiring practices: Mika Salmi possesses proven drive, ambition, persistence, and the ability to recognize opportunity. Yet 125 companies rejected him outright.

Many companies today use software to screen r?sum?s based on keywords and rely mostly on human resources clerks with little or no true business experience to review selected r?sum?s. How can they recognize the traits shown by Mika and people like him? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban would have been rejected by HR departments at many companies. Career ads for these companies need to carry the disclaimer: "Achievers and mavericks need not apply."

George Muenz

Vancouver, B.C.

Handmade rugs are continuously portrayed as unworthy of a fair profit margin for the companies that make them ("My magic carpet ride in India," Personal Business, Mar. 20). As a retailer, appraiser, and wholesaler, I have never seen a consumer come back from a source country having purchased a carpet at a "fair price" or even one that was mildly attractive -- just an expensive souvenir complete with a story sometimes so ridiculous the teller only realizes it when he or she steps off the plane and repeats it.

Obeetee, the largest producer and seller of Indian carpets in the world, has produced rugs for the U.S. market for nearly 60 years, supplying many of the national brands U.S. consumers readily associate with quality, value, and taste. Your story insinuates that Obeetee pays commissions to hotels for referrals and that our carpets are dramatically overpriced -- neither is true. "Rug rules...and resources," the rudimentary summation of how to buy a carpet, lacks substance and cites an "insider's guide" that is nearly 30 years old.

Please, no more articles on handmade carpets unless you intend to evaluate the content, source, and references with the same standards you would any other industry. We work in a vibrant business with creative, hardworking people making products that can last for more than 100 years. It is a shame that outdated and misleading perceptions can last just as long.

Bill Ward, CEO

Obeetee Inc. New York

Re Jena McGregor's review of Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense, by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton ("Forget going with your gut," Books, Mar. 20): Who would have thought pay for performance might be flawed -- O.K., besides W. Edwards Deming and Peter Scholtes, who have been saying it for decades?

Those of you who swear by pay for performance, please find a controlled study (a.k.a., facts) that supports your position. If pay for performance works and you'd like to improve your workers' performance, why not give them all a 10% raise?

Preston Black


The observance of the U.S. Senate's ancient rules of decorum apparently is more fitting than accomplishing its work ("Spittoons and quills but no laptops, please," Washington Outlook, Mar. 13).

Russell R. Griffin

Saint Cloud, Fla.

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