WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Braun has taken it upon himself to back efforts to help people struggling with ALS.
Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it’s a sickness that results in the slow degeneration of a person’s ability to control their muscles to the point that they become completely paralyzed and die.
Braun is putting pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop and approve treatments for people with ALS.
“I’m really interested in general to try and get the FDA to maintain its integrity and standards, but pick up the pace a bit,” Braun said to acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. “I still sense extreme frustration among the individuals that are struggling with these diseases.”
Frustration that it’s difficult for ALS patients to at least try experimental drugs and treatments in at least some effort to try and live. Dr. Woodcock said that it’s not that the process is flawed in any way when it comes to moving drugs and treatments through the approval process. She said with neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, the science behind them is harder to come by.
“In neurodegeneration, we’re still at a more primitive area of science,” she said. “We don’t really understand why these things are happening to people, for example with ALS. We will do everything we can to move these therapies along and be very flexible, however, we need good science because we need treatments that are going to work.”
Woodcock also points to “right to try” legislation on the books that allows patients of certain diseases to have access to certain drugs and treatments that are still in the experimental phases.
She said that is certainly an option, but until scientists are able to better understand what the root causes of ALS are, many of these efforts to try certain experimental therapies may not come with desired outcomes.