Prominent Research Physician Points to Cures As Key to Holding down Medical Costs
WESTFIELD, N.J., May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stephen L. DeFelice, M.D., Founder and Chairman of FIM, The Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, released a new video criticizing mainstream health care cost projections of Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, among others, because they omit the discovery of cures. He cites a boom in technology, including gene modification and new organ growth as inevitable in curing many of our major costly diseases. View the video here:
"The Alzheimer's Association projects that the cost of managing this life stealing disease over the next 40 years is 20 trillion dollars, more than the national debt. Current annual costs for diabetic care, in another example, are about $250 billion, which will rise over time approaching the Alzheimer's level over the next 40 years," the Doctor points out.
He cites formidable problems blocking discovery of cures under our current system.
"When was the last cure?" he questions, and finds it puzzling that few ever ask this question. In his book, Drug Discovery: The Pending Crisis (1972) he warned of a huge, unrecognized barrier effectively preventing the discovery of cures. "Our present system of drug discovery is almost designed not to cure the great diseases that confront us. I have no doubt they'll be cured in the future, but many must wait.
"Discovery of new therapies can only happen if they are tested in patients in clinical studies, but we have made testing and research so costly – and risky – that promising new therapies remain in the shadows."
But Dr. DeFelice says we have a cultural blind spot to the critical role of clinical research and, instead, view it with suspicion. He proposes that doctor-physician patients have the right to be much freer to volunteer for clinical studies than non-doctors. He later coined the term "Doctornauts," to describe their role and subsequently proposed the Doctornaut Act to Congress, which grants the doctors this right.
Dr. DeFelice sees encouraging news as Congress recognizes the importance of clinical research's role in medical discovery. He collaborated with then Senate Majority Leader, and physician, Bill Frist, who circulated a discussion draft of the Act which is posted on the FIM website (see below). Recently, Congress, largely supported by Senator Tom Harkin, agreed to fund the Translational Science initiative which is based on the need to help doctor researchers conduct clinical studies. This initiative was sparked by two directors of the NIH, Drs. Elias Zerhouni, the former director and Francis Collins, the current one. "Any effective way to diminish the barriers to clinical research will lead to cures in the short term and to dramatically reduced health costs," the Doctor points out. "And the Doctornaut Act can make that happen much sooner, he says.
Dr. DeFelice is the physician who brought the orphan drug carnitine into the United States and conducted the first clinical trials on it.