US Congress passes bill to end Parkinson’s disease

US Congress passes bill to end Parkinson’s disease

The US Senate has joined the House of Representatives in approving the first-ever federal bill dedicated to ending Parkinson’s disease, modelled on similar legislation for Alzheimer’s that was enacted in 2011.

The National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act – which now only needs President Joe Biden’s signature to make it onto the statute – revolves around the creation of a federal advisory council representing Parkinson’s patients, carers, clinicians, researchers, and federal agency staff.

The aim will be to push for increased federal funding for Parkinson’s projects, support the development of prevention programmes and ways to diagnose the disease more quickly, and find new treatments and care strategies, according to the text of the bill.

The council will be tasked with ensuring coordination among federal entities with responsibility for managing, treating, and curing Parkinson’s, evaluating federal programmes related to the disease, writing a National Plan, holding a biannual research congress, and providing regular updates to Congress.

It also extends to other diseases like multiple system atrophy (MSA), Lewy body disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and Parkinson’s-related dementia.

The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which supported the bill, said it “stands ready to work together to bring the promise of the National Plan to fruition on behalf of everyone touched by Parkinson’s and atypical parkinsonisms.”

“When we started the Foundation, we could only dream of the breakthroughs the Parkinson’s community has experienced over the last year, from the discovery of a biomarker to the federal government advancing a plan to end Parkinson’s,” said Michael J Fox in a statement.

“A National Plan to End Parkinson’s is a historic opportunity to accelerate our search for cures, and now is the time.”

The plan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the National Plan for Alzheimer’s, which was set up with the goal of preventing and effectively treating the disease by 2025. While that ambitious objective is still largely unfulfilled, since 2011 annual federal funding for Alzheimer’s research has risen seven-fold to more than $3.7 billion last year, helping to fund research into new therapeutic approaches.

“As the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s is expected to rise to more than one million in the next few years, we need real collaboration across the public and private sectors to fast-track promising research, develop better treatments, support patients and their loved ones, and find a cure,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who introduced the bill in the Senate.

“Whether they are living with the disease or caring for someone impacted by it, Parkinson’s takes a terrible toll on the physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being of everyone involved.”