The number of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the U.S. has doubled over the last 25 years and it is predicted to double again in the next 25 years, according to the Gates Foundation. “If Parkinson’s was an infectious condition, this would be a pandemic,” said Ray Dorsey, M.D., neurologist, University of Rochester Medical Center.
Dorsey was among the panelists at the “Parkinson's Disease: A Modern Pandemic” briefing in Washington, D.C. on January 17, sponsored by the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease and The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Parkinson's Foundation.
Myra Hirschhorn, patient advocate, told her story as a care partner during her late husband’s experience with Parkinson’s. She emphasized that PD not only has devastating effects physically and emotionally on the person coping with the disease, but it also impacts the lives of the patient’s lovde ones.
Ms. Hirschhorn emphasized a strong need for Congress to appropriate funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s data collection bill within 21st Century Cures to help patients and researchers better determine the prevalence patterns of PD. “We need better information,” she added.
James Beck, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Parkinson's Foundation, and adjunct assistant professor, New York University School of Medicine, said breakthroughs in PD require concerted efforts over time and it is time to re-emphasize basic research.
“The moonshot did not happen overnight,” said Dr. Beck. “Increased spending will kick-start innovative ideas and help scientists build bridges to better treatments and cures for PD.”
Congressional Caucus on Parkinson's Disease co-chair Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) also voiced his support for progress in Parkinson’s disease research.