Parkinson's in the Media

Hospital Dangers for Patients With Parkinson’s
The New York Times
It was supposed to be a short stay. In 2006, Roger Anderson was to undergo surgery to relieve a painfully compressed spinal disk. His wife, Karen, figured the staff at the hospital, in Portland, Ore., would understand how to care for someone with Parkinson’s disease.  It can be difficult. Parkinson’s patients like Mr. Anderson, for example, must take medications at precise intervals to replace the brain chemical dopamine, which is diminished by the disease. “You don’t have much of a window,” Mrs. Anderson said. “If you have to wait an hour, you have tremendous problems.” Without these medications, people may “freeze” and be unable to move, or develop uncontrolled movements called dyskinesia, and are prone to falls.  But the nurses at the Portland hospital didn’t seem to grasp those imperatives. “You’d have to wait half an hour or an hour, and that’s not how it works for Parkinson’s patients,” Mrs. Anderson said. Nor did hospital rules, at the time, permit her to simply give her husband the Sinemet pills on her own.  More...

The Doctor Won’t See You Now? Study: U.S. Facing a Neurologist Shortage
Press Release:  American Academy of Neurology
“With the rapidly rising rates of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke at the same time as the number of US medical residents choosing neurology over other specialties is clearly declining, the US could face a crisis,” said study author Thomas R. Vidic, MD, with Elkhart Clinic in Elkhart, Indiana and a Fellow with the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study found that long wait times for patients to see a neurologist and difficulty finding neurologists to fill vacant positions are adding to the current national shortfall. In addition, the demand for neurologists is expected to grow as people gain coverage through health care reform.”  For the study, researchers created future year projections by reviewing the current number of US neurologists and simulating retirement probability, new graduates, and patient care hours worked.  The study found that the demand for neurologists will grow faster than the supply. The US could use 11 percent more neurologists to meet current needs. By 2025, that number will grow to 19 percent. The study found that the estimated 16,366 US neurologists is projected to increase to 18,060 by 2025, while demand for neurologists is projected to increase from about 18,180 in 2012 to 21,440 during that time.  More...
The study abstract can be found here.

The Future of Biomedical Research
Journal of the American Medical Association
The community of biomedical researchers is anxious, if not downright depressed, about the future, and there is good reason for this pessimism. For decades the importance of biomedical research was a reliable pillar of bipartisan agreement, as evidenced by the continuous high levels of funding that both parties have sustained during the last 3 presidential administrations. From the beginning of President Clinton's first term to the end of President George W. Bush's second term, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget more than tripled, increasing from $8.9 billion to $29.6 billion. Cumulatively, over the last 15 years, the federal government has spent more than $385 billion in funding for biomedical research through the NIH—despite 2 wars and a turbulent economy.  Yet to many observers, the future appears bleak. This coming year, there will almost certainly be no increase in NIH funding. Moreover, sequestration means that the NIH will actually lose approximately 5.1% of its current level of funding, or about $1.55 billion.  Bipartisan support has all but evaporated, and biomedical research is quickly becoming just another partisan issue.  How did this reversal of fortunes occur? Is there anything the biomedical research community can do about it?  More...

Obama Calls for Brain Mapping Project
USA Today
President Obama announced a federal brain mapping project Tuesday, aimed at conquering challenges such as epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer's disease.  Expected since January's State of the Union speech, the decades-long effort would initially be funded at roughly $100 million in the proposed 2014 federal budget that Obama said he would submit to Congress next week.  Obama combined science and the economy in his announcement, describing the proposed brain mapping project as the kind of government program that can generate jobs — and yet is at risk because of the federal budget sequester.  Patient groups, such as the Parkinson's Action Network, and the Society for Neuroscience for researchers also applauded the project.  More...

Cancer Clinics are Turning Away Thousands of Medicare Patients.  Blame the Sequester.
The Washington Post
Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts.  Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.  Patients at these clinics would need to seek treatment elsewhere, such as at hospitals that might not have the capacity to accommodate them.  “If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we’d be out of business in six months to a year,” said Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York. “The drugs we’re going to lose money on we’re not going to administer right now.”  After an emergency meeting Tuesday, Vacirca’s clinics decided that they would no longer see one-third of their 16,000 Medicare patients.  More...

Tumors on Ice as Budget Impasse Freezes Medical Research
Steven Houser, director of the cardiovascular research center at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said he fears the cuts will hamper research for years to come, shrinking the number of research trainees hired or accepted into graduate programs, and causing still other students to question whether medical research is a viable career option. The chance of getting a grant funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, under the NIH umbrella, has fallen to about 6 percent this year, Houser said in a telephone interview. That’s the lowest he’s ever seen it, down from 10 percent to 12 percent in recent years, he said. “The main thing that’s going to happen is people are going to lose jobs,” Houser said. More...


Date originally posted: April 24, 2013.