By The Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, Special for USDR
In a provocative in depth, eye-opener interview of Dr. DeFelice, Founder Chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), 1976, by Joseph M. Valenzano, CEO and Publisher of Exceptional Parent, a highly persuasive argument is made on how to, in a “doable” way and within a relatively short period of time, dramatically reduce health care costs. DeFelice’s rationale is supported by both asking and connecting two questions which, he, though difficult to accept, points out have never been adequately addressed, but are, paradoxically, absolutely necessary to both understand and resolve the problem. The first is, “When was the last cure?” And the second, “Why are health care costs so high?”
In his first book, Drug Discovery, the Pending Crisis, published way back in 1972, he correctly predicted there would be few cures of diseases and disabilities in the near future which proved, almost a half century later, to be sadly prophetic. He has found that the majority of people currently cite polio as the last cure. That was in the early 1950’s!
Valenzano claims that DeFelice, based on his decades-long carnitine journey which resulted in saving the lives of children, among other experiences, is unique in that he, like no other, has personally experienced the entire drug discovery system and reveals, with examples, aspects of it never before characterized in their entirety.
In this interview, he makes the unquestionable assumption that the best way to reduce such costs is to cure what ails us. For example, Alzheimer’s cost projections up to mid-century are $20 trillion, about the size of our current national debt. Cure this disease, and this cost is eliminated. Though rarely pointed out, however, the only way to discover cures for Alzheimer’s and other maladies such as diabetes and heart disease is by testing them in such patients in clinical research studies, the critical step in medical discovery. But herein lies the problem. The barriers, costs and risks, to conduct clinical studies are formidable, blocking the clinical testing of untold numbers of current and future promising breakthrough therapies. And “that is why” we have few cures and “that is why” health care costs are high.
In this exclusive interview, DeFelice explains why such barriers will not be reduced. In fact, they are increasing. He describes how we have what he calls an unbudgeable cultural blind spot to the critical importance of clinical research. In his first book and in his continuing educational efforts, in order to remove such barriers, he proposed that physician volunteers should have the right to volunteer for clinical studies much more easily. More promising therapies would then be tested and more cures discovered, including those maladies that are not common. He coined the term Doctornaut for such physicians and proposed the Doctornaut Act. There has been zero support except for the courageous surgeon and a former medical researcher, Senator Bill Frist, a physician and then Senate Majority Leader, who had a draft of the Doctornaut Act circulated, but found zero support. Fortunately, Exceptional Parent, dedicated to helping families with loved ones afflicted with disabilities and rare diseases has stepped to the plate to support the Doctornaut Act.
But now DeFelice is optimistic for during the presidential debates the issue of health care cost reduction will be raised by the moderators as well as the health status of the candidates themselves. DeFelice asks, “What can the candidates propose?” other than by dramatically reducing health care services which Americans will understandably reject and which will have political consequences. There is no current CAN- DO way except the Doctornaut Act. If there is, let the candidates speak.
SOURCE The Foundation for Innovation in Medicine