Emily Rice Published

New Federal Law Aims To Study And Treat Parkinson’s Disease

A physician or health care worker dressed in blue scrubs helps an elderly person using a cane to walk with a hand.
A bill to create a federal plan to prevent and cure Parkinson’s disease, introduced by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, became law last week.
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West Virginia has the third-highest prevalence rate of Parkinson’s in the country with about 7,000 people living with the disease, according to the Economic Burden of Parkinson’s Disease study published in 2019.

During a press conference with her fellow Senate Republicans on Tuesday, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announced a bill she helped introduce to address Parkinson’s disease nationally has been signed into law.

“There now will be developed a national plan to end Parkinson’s disease,” Capito said. “We know it manifests in a lot of different ways, we haven’t done the research and development across the country, and I personally want to thank the advocates from my state of West Virginia who have served as a very powerful voice.”

The bill, called the “Dr. Emmanuel Bilirakis and Honorable Jennifer Wexton National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act” requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and evaluate progress on a government-wide plan to address Parkinson’s.

“Through hard work and collaboration, we came together to establish a path forward to address Parkinson’s disease and strengthen our pursuit of a cure. Now that this legislation is officially law, the federal government can unite around our mission of ending this disease and establish a responsible plan that increases diagnosis and treatment, and supports research efforts already underway,” Capito said. “Many West Virginians have stressed the need and importance of this effort, and I’m thrilled to deliver on behalf of them and all who have been impacted by this terrible disease.”

The act also creates an advisory council made up of people from federal agencies, caregivers, patients and other non-federal experts to support research, care and services for Parkinson’s.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Marshall Health.