Plant-made Pharmaceuticals Show Promise for Disease Treatment - IAPO Takes Lead to Inform Patients’ Organizations of Associated Benefits and Risks

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Plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) raise the potential to address a critical need for improved treatments for a number of diseases and other medical conditions suffered by people the world over, according to a soon-to-be-released Briefing Paper that examines the technologyÂ?s potential.

Plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) raise the potential to address a critical need for improved treatments for a number of diseases and other medical conditions suffered by people the world over, according to a soon-to-be-released Briefing Paper that examines the technology’s potential. The Briefing Paper, prepared by the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO), provides accurate, unbiased information based on current evidence-based research to patients’ organizations in order to equip them with an understanding of the science and technology and related social, ethical, economic and environmental issues.

Albert van der Zeijden, IAPO Chair, commented that, “Patients need to be well-informed as to the existing and potential benefits and risks of emerging technologies which will affect them directly. We hope that making this information accessible to patients’ organizations worldwide will enable them to make an informed judgement on the possible value of plant-made pharmaceuticals to the patients they represent and to engage in debate and policy-making."

Plant-made pharmaceuticals – protein-based medicines produced in plants that have been genetically modified - are gaining increasing attention for their potential to aid in the production of therapeutic proteins to treat diseases and conditions including diarrhoea (one of the leading causes of death of children in the developing world), cancer, HIV, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many more.

“There is a very large need for therapeutic improvements for a multitude of diseases of humankind,” writes Lawrence D. Tobias in the Briefing Paper. “There is a possibility that this need may be at least partially filled in the future by PMPs.”

Using plants as the vehicle for pharmaceutical production may offer a variety of potential advantages, including fast and flexible supply to meet patient needs, lower capital investments than current methods and the ability to produce “difficult” proteins that are otherwise unavailable to the health professionals. Given the diversity of views that have surrounded the introduction of genetically modified organisms and particularly food crops around the world, it is essential that dialogue and debate between well-informed patients, industry, academia and governments is a priority in future discussions of plant-made pharmaceuticals.

To further develop this dialogue, Albert van der Zeijden will present the Briefing Paper, “The use of genetically modified plants to produce human therapeutic proteins: a summary of existing and potential risks,” for the first time at the Conference on Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals 2005, which takes place in Montreal, Canada from 30 January-2 February 2005. Representatives of some of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies will gather at the conference, which will offer 90 speakers on a broad range of topics related to the PMP industry.

“IAPO’s Paper is an important examination of plant-made pharmaceuticals that for the first time examines the technology from the point of view of the patient,” said François Arcand, conference organizer and president of Canada’s Society for Moleculture. “We are honoured that IAPO has chosen to present its findings at our event.”

Note to Editors:

1. IAPO is the only global alliance representing patients of all nationalities across all disease areas and promoting patient-centred healthcare worldwide. Our members are patients’ organizations working at the local, national, regional and international levels to represent and support patients, their families and carers. A patient is a person with any chronic disease, illness, syndrome, impairment or disability. IAPO was founded in 1999 by forty patients’ organizations from around the world.

2. IAPO’s vision is that patients throughout the world are at the centre of healthcare.

3. IAPO’s mission is to help build patient-centred healthcare around the world by:

•    Realizing active partnerships with patients’ organizations, maximizing their impact through capacity building

•    Advocating internationally with a strong patients’ voice on relevant aspects of healthcare policy, with the aim of influencing international, regional and national health agendas and policies

•    Building cross-sector alliances and working collaboratively with like-minded medical and health professionals, policy-makers, academics, researchers and industry representatives

Global Patients Congress

25-27 February 2005, London, UK

For more information: http://www.patientsorganizations.org/congress

For more information about cPMP, visit http://www.cpmp2005.org or contact Sarah Fuhrmann (Tel: +1 314 721 3180).

Media Contact:

Ms Jo Harkness

Policy & External Affairs Director

International Alliance of Patients' Organizations

703 The Chandlery

50 Westminster Bridge Road

London SE1 7QY

United Kingdom

Direct Tel: +44 20 7721 7597

Fax: +44 20 7721 7596

Direct Email: policy@patientsorganizations.org

Website: http://www.patientsorganizations.org

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