Friday, January 11, 2008

Michael J. Fox's Crusade

I just found out that there hasn't been a single new treatment for Parkinson's Disease in 40 years. Veteran actor Michael J. Fox, founder of a foundation to support Parkinson's research appeared on Forbes's video network to talk about the work his foundation is doing to change all that. View it here.

I admit it, part of the reason I tuned in was to check and see if there was any validity to Rush Limbaugh's assertion that Fox was "exaggerating the effects of the disease" for political effect when he made a commercial in favor of Missouri Dem. Senator Claire McCaskill. And the answer is ... who knows? Who cares? Michael is eloquent despite his tremors and makes a powerful argument in favor of finding ways to smooth the way for research into new therapies and diagnostics.

So, here's my question: what was going on 40 years ago that is not going on today? Why was it possible to bring the current treatment, L-Dopa on to the market in the 1960s, while nowadays, despite the explosion of biopharma and a 21st century level of medical sophistication, we've got nothing?

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