Dr. Kenneth P. Johnson, longtime head of neurology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore, joined representatives of international pharmaceutical giant Teva at the UMB BioPark on February 24 to talk about advances in the treatment of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS) that took place as a result of research at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and UMB.
Dr. Johnson spearheaded efforts to ease self-injection of Copaxone by MS patients, and pointed out Baltimore's unique status in life sciences and more specifically in medicine: "There are a few primary places on the map, one being Baltimore, where you can expect new development and superior patient care." Across Maryland, the region's advantage is even heavier: "Between Johns Hopkins, UMB, and the National Institutes of Health [in Bethesda], very few places in the country even come close to what is available here."
The Maryland/Israel Development Center, which promotes bilateral trade and encourages Israeli companies to establish their North American bases in Maryland, sponsored the event. John Hassler, VP of Marketing at Teva Neuroscience, also spoke about Teva's dual role as both the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world -- one in every six U.S. prescriptions is filled with a Teva product -- and maker of branded treatments like Copaxone. Teva worked with Dr. Johnson to make Copaxone easy to use, and the company achieved positive results over the years for consistent treatment by introducing nurses as trainers and assuring proper administration through consultation with physicians.
"One of the key issues with MS is that we don't know what causes it, so there are multiple methods of treating it," Hassler said.
Over 2.5 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
Writer: Sam Hopkins
Sources: Dr. Kenneth Johnson, UMB, John Hassler, Teva Neuroscience