Guest Post by:
Mike Schmitt, MD
On Wednesday, September 10th, I had the opportunity to attend the Foley Lardner Leadership Education Series in Orlando
. It was held in the law firm’s board room on the 18th floor of the Regions Bank building with breathtaking views of downtown—it was nice to see first hand the amazing economic development taking place in the metro Orlando area.
The conference was an update on treatments for neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc) presented by Stuart Lipton
, MD., PhD, who is the Director of the Burnham Institute’s Center for Neuroscience Research in La Jolla, California.
Dr. Lipton presented some cutting-edge data on how a drug that he has already developed (Memantine) may be useful for not only treating existing Alzheimer’s disease, but for preventing it in high-risk individuals. The drug is FDA approved (has relatively minimal side effects) and is currently on the market. Dr. Lipton is hoping it gains wider usage among the neurology community to benefit Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. Lipton indicated that if left unstopped, dementia-related diseases will consume over half of the US GNP by 2050. I think this reflects on not only our aging population, but on the ever-increasing costs of health care as well (good topic for another post).
I’ll remind folks that Dan mentioned the upcoming Alzheimer’s Memory Walk
event in his blog on August 7th—be sure to take a look at the link as this is an awesome event to raise awareness of this disabling illness. In fact, the Gainesville “Walk” will be taking place on 10/4, Jacksonville on 9/20, and Orlando on 10/11.
On another note of importance to Florida life sciences—Ed Baxa, partner and member of Foley’s Management Committee, and chair of the firm’s National Pro Bono Committee announced that the firm will be contributing pro bono legal services (IP, regulatory, health law, etc.) relating to the development of therapies in the “orphan drug” space. The term “orphan drug” refers to a product that treats a rare disease affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. Pharma companies are often reluctant to take on these illnesses as they perceive the potential market as being too small to justify R&D costs.
These services will be offered primarily to Burnham, university programs, and other non-profit 501(c)(3)’s. Thanks goes out to Foley Lardner’s commitment to being involved in our biomedical community on a research level as well as for patient care.