I was puzzled about the way this topic was presented. Clearly the four cultural attractions mentioned are the gems of the canal, with each one bringing people specifically to their building to see their exhibits and experience their programs.Although he was a very successful businessman, the manner in which he achieved his success--the manufacture and distribution of amyl nitrates as a recreational inhalant drug--often attracted criticism of him and drew the scrutiny of federal regulators. His most vocal critic was Hank Wilson, an HIV/AIDS gay activist. Wilson co-authored a book, DEATH RUSH: Poppers & AIDS in 1986 in which he took direct aim at Miller's Great Lakes Products, considered to be the largest manufacturer and distributor of poppers in the world, which was based in Indianapolis before the business seemed to abruptly close at the same time as Miller's death by suicide first became publicly known. In 2004, Wilson as head of the Committee to Monitor Poppers/SURVIVE AIDS wrote to the FDA to urge a crackdown on the distribution of poppers in this country, which he insisted have contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS and have had a devastating and deadly impact on the health of people who use poppers, namely gay men. Complaining about the FDA's failure to carry out enforcement action against the manufacturers and distributors of poppers, Wilson, who is now dead, wrote, in an October 14, 2004 letter to the FDA:
As someone who is often on the canal running, walking or on my Segway, I agree with the Indiana Historical Society’s CEO, John Herbst, when he observes that many canal users, especially at this time of year, are there for physical exercise—and a museum visit is not part of their plan while jogging or walking.
It seems to me that it is not the responsibility of the canal district cultural attractions—nor within their capabilities—to try to create the ambience that San Antonio’s canal provides (which is much more akin to what Massachusetts Avenue has achieved here in Indianapolis).
Enforcement is overdue. Research accumulates finding amyl nitrite immunosuppressive, and a significant risk factor in unsafe sex, hiv seroconversion, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma.. Prevalence of use is high. The consuming community, both consumers and many doctors, is ignorant of the research, confused by mixed and/or changing messages overtime, and/or misinformed by deceptive advertising by the poppers industry.Although there have been Internet rumors Miller's Indianapolis-based business was raided shortly before his suicide last week, there has been no confirmation of it from government law enforcement officials. It is clear that a number of websites once operated by Miller to promote the sale of poppers went dark near the time of his unexpected death. Others suggest a government shutdown of his popper business had nothing to do with his suicide. According to those sources, federal law enforcement officials are remaining low key about his death as they work to unravel alleged crimes totally unrelated to Miller's popper business. Other than a story that appeared a week ago briefly in the Indianapolis Star before being yanked from the online edition reporting on his suicide earlier that week and the obituary that appeared in yesterday's Star, the news media has remained very quiet about his death. Those who profess to have known him expressed shock and disbelief that he would have taken his own life.
The public health impact is costly with every new amyl nitrite fueled HIV infection. Its not just the consumer that pays the price for using amyl nitrite. The public pays for the morbidy and costly care associated with each new hiv infection.
The public health impact justifies an expenditure of resources to enforce the prescription regulation. A time limited, ongoing, or even random publicized enforcement action will have a deterrent as well as education impact on both sellers, consumers, and doctors.
The consuming community needs an update and alert that research about the hazards of using amyl nitrite is accumulating. Doctors too need updating about the accumulating research on the hazards of abusing amyl nitrite. Both consumers and doctors initially focused on amyl nitrite use being a cause of AIDS.
When HIV was discovered, the focus and concern about amyl nitrite/poppers use diminished or disappeared. Subsequent advertising by the poppers industry exonerated poppers use. A gourmet myth has currency among both consumers and doctors that amyl nitrite is “the safe one”, the poppers formulation that is hazard free. The poppers industry ads foster this health endangering belief.
Some amyl nitrite sellers endanger consumers by promoting amyl nitrite and Viagra on the same website. There appears to be no consequence for advertising both poppers and Viagra despite them being a potentially lethal combination. A compelling reason for FDA to reassess its non enforcement of regulating amyl nitrite is the burgeoning sales and use of Viagra and non prescription sales of Viagra. Consumers need the prescription counseling about hazards of using amyl nitrite. Recreational Viagra use has emerged as a significant behavior among males, homosexual and straight.
A memorial service and celebration of Joe Miller's life is scheduled at the Indiana Repertory Theater on Tuesday, September 7th at 5:30 p.m. according to his obituary in the Star. The obituary says donations in his memory can be made to The Damien Center of Indianapolis, The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, or The Indiana AIDS Fund. It says final arrangements have been entrusted to Crown Hill Funeral Home.