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+ - Patent Dispute Blocks Promising ALS Treatment->

Submitted by
klenwell
klenwell writes "The New York Times today is carrying a story about a family's desperate efforts to find a treatment for Joshua Thompson, a 34 year-old father of two, suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Once diagnosed, the best treatment Joshua's doctor could offer was a prescription for Rilutek, a drug which "typically prolongs life by a few months". Through online research, Joshua's mother discovered Iplex, another drug originally intended for helping childing with growth deficiencies that showed promising results for A.L.S. sufferers who had tried it. But the drug was initially unavailable due to a settlement arising from a patent dispute:

[T]he drug's maker, Insmed, lost a patent infringement lawsuit to a biotechnology firm that was already selling a drug for short stature that had similar properties. Iplex , however, was thought to be more potent for treating A.L.S. Insmed agreed to pull its drug off the market. Only the Italian Health Ministry, which had begun to distribute the drug to A.L.S. patients under a compassionate use program, could continue to buy it. Kathy dashed off a letter to the F.D.A.... But the agency could not weigh in until Insmed agreed to make the drug available. And Insmed's hands were tied by the settlement agreement.

Before lashing out at the drug companies involved, or the F.D.A. for standing in the way of experimental trials, make sure you read the whole article. In the end, an agreement between drug companies, and a reversal of course by the F.D.A., allowed Joshua to start treatment with Iplex as a "compassionate use" exception."
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