Klobuchar Pushes for Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Legislation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today renewed her push to pass legislation she introduced earlier this year with Olympic swimming Champion Ryan Lochte. Klobuchar was joined by Lochte and several of her colleagues at a news conference calling for Congress to pass the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education (MD CARE) Act of 2008 legislation that honors the legacy of the late Minnesota senator and advances research into a disabling condition that affects thousands of young Americans. Senator Klobuchar was also joined by two young men suffering from muscular dystrophy and praised the recent research advances made possible by similar legislation and highlighted the need to strengthen and build on the successful program.
The original law, introduced by Wellstone and enacted in 2001, created six “centers of excellence’’ for muscular dystrophy research at leading universities, helped launch a separate research program at the University of Minnesota, and authorized the Centers for Disease Control to conduct epidemiological research into the disease and disseminate best care practices.
Klobuchar’s bill would renew the research program, authorizing the investment of millions of dollars in new funding, strengthens efforts to develop effective care models, and renames the centers of excellence as Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers.
“Finding a cure for muscular dystrophy transcends partisanship,” Klobuchar said. “Thanks to Paul Wellstone’s original legislation, there have already been major research advances. This new legislation would build on Paul’s legacy by investing in further efforts to achieve the medical breakthrough that would answer the hopes of the many children and families affected by this devastating disease.”
The six Wellstone Centers are located at the University of Iowa, the University of Rochester, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, the University of Pittsburgh and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
“The world of muscular dystrophy has changed dramatically in the last six years, primarily due to the MD CARE Act,’’ said Pat Furlong of Middletown, Ohio, head of the parents’ advocacy group Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. “We are deeply grateful to Senator Klobuchar for taking the lead in the Senate to reauthorize this historic legislation. We now stand at the forefront of promising clinical trials and we are anxious to continue that momentum.’’
Wellstone authored the original legislation after taking an interest in the case of Jacob Gunvalson of Gonvick, Minnesota, who has muscular dystrophy, and working with Jacob’s physician, Dr. John Day of the University of Minnesota.
Muscular dystrophy is a category of inherited disorders that cause a gradual reduction in muscular strength and skeletal control. The most common form among children, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, affects about 1 in every 3,500 boys.