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A Puzlax For Readers

In response to:

Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption from the January 15, 2009 issue

To the Editors:

I just finished reading Dr. Marcia Angell’s review article “Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption” [NYR, January 15]—not surprisingly, very scary. It also contained a puzzle. “Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Serzone, and Effexor” are names of drugs listed. Note that each moniker contains either an x or a z or both of these letters. (And there are others; I myself take two medicines with x‘s in their names.) This can’t be random, since my not-very-thorough research has revealed that together with j and q these letters are at the very bottom in the frequency with which they show up in English.

Now, leaving aside whether these drugs promote health, they are reported to be commercially wildly successful. Surely there is a connection; the people who christen these pills (probably after much discussion) must know what they are doing. But what is it that they know and I don’t? Perhaps some readers of The New York Review are in a position to enlighten us concerning this bit of linguistic magic.

Rudolph H. Weingartner
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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