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Congress Has a Plan to End Parkinson’s

A bipartisan team of legislators is calling for an end to Parkinson’s disease – the progressive brain disorder that impacts nearly 1 million Americans. 

A bill known as the National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act (S.1064/H.R.2365), supported by leading Parkinson’s groups including The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Parkinson’s Foundation, is currently pending in Congress. The bill calls for federal agencies, patients, caregivers and experts to collaborate on finding solutions for the debilitating disease. 

The National Plan to End Parkinson’s 

The legislation, which boasts 99 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 11 in the Senate, represents a concerted effort to conquer Parkinson’s. It also aims to invest in a cure, as well as ensure better care quality, rather than just treating millions more Parkinson’s patients in the coming decades — an annual expense expected to balloon to $80 billion in the next 15 years. 

The plan envisions an advisory committee of representatives from federal agencies working together to: 

  • Coordinate federal agencies’ work toward managing, treating and curing Parkinson’s disease 
  • Evaluate all current federal programs related to Parkinson’s 
  • Develop a national plan to prevent and cure Parkinson’s and reduce the financial impact of the disease on both patients and the federal government 

Progress on Parkinson’s 

The national plan would complement ongoing research efforts. 

The National Institutes of Health is dedicating substantial resources to Parkinson’s research, including a quarter billion dollars in 2021. NIH supports ongoing research and discovery and translates new findings into clinical practice for improved patient care.  

Meanwhile, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative at the Michael J. Fox Foundation has been instrumental in driving a recent breakthrough. Researchers have developed a spinal fluid test that can identify the problematic protein associated with Parkinson’s. The test could allow for earlier diagnosis and may spur for the development of targeted medications as well. Current medications can only manage symptoms, but research into treatments that slow the disease are also in the pipeline.  

“The National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act is no-cost legislation that will — for the first time — unite the federal government on a mission to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure Parkinson’s disease,” said Ted Thompson, senior vice president of policy for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “With the recent discovery of a Parkinson’s biomarker, there is no better time for the public and private sectors to come together in search of a cure for today’s fastest-growing neurological disease. With bipartisan support and over 100 co-sponsors in Congress, this legislation is life-changing for the one million people living with Parkinson’s in the U.S. today and for generations to come.” 

About Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s disease, which causes involuntary movements, stiffness, and cognitive challenges, affects millions worldwide. Patients may also struggle with mood and behavior changes, and face difficulties with memory and sleep, seriously impeding daily activities. Parkinson’s cause is not fully known

Disability and mortality rates for Parkinson’s patients globally are rising, while disease-related costs in the United States have reached $52 billion annually.  

Legislative and policy support is needed to facilitate research breakthroughs – and to address the economic and human burdens of Parkinson’s disease. As the National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act gathers momentum in Congress, patients, families and researchers have reasons for hope.