Advancing the frontiers of medicine in meaningful ways

Becoming an actor or practicing medicine. Some might say it’s impossible to pursue both career paths, but not for Ron Cohen.

After receiving his M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons and finishing his residency at University of Virginia Medical Center, Ron planned to do his fellowship in neurology. Then at the last minute, he changed his mind. It was his love of theater that propelled him to go after his dream of becoming an actor. So for five years, he practiced medicine and acted at the same time.

Fast forward to today. Ron is now the President and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. He came up with the idea for Acorda in 1993 and the company incorporated officially in 1995. Since then, Acorda has been advancing the frontiers of medicine and improving the lives of people with neurological diseases in incredibly meaningful ways.

One of the transformative therapies that Acorda is developing, CVT-301, is for people with Parkinson's disease.

“There are close to 500 Parkinson’s disease clinical trials that are currently listed as being open on clintrials.gov. In our case, we’re working on CVT-301 which relies on very advanced technology for delivering drugs into the lungs through inhalation,” says Cohen.

CVT-301 is a powdered form of L-Dopa that is distributed easily into the lungs. It is intended for people with Parkinson's disease who experience so called "off episodes" where their L-Dopa therapy stops working.

“We have a phase 3 clinical trial going on and if that’s as successful as the phase 2 trial was, we can file for an approval with the FDA,” says Cohen.

Developing a new drug can take 10 to 15 years on average. Plus, it’s estimated that the average drug costs about $2 billion dollars to develop. Although the task sounds extremely daunting, Acorda is determined to find better treatments for people living with Parkinson’s disease.

One of their efforts involves collaborating with organizations like APDA. In fact, Acorda recently gave a grant to APDA to educate people about the importance of participating in clinical trials which includes a webinar and also local Chapter events.

He also stresses the importance of giving to an organization like APDA.

“APDA provides support to individuals and families affected by Parkinson’s disease. That’s something you can’t get anywhere else and it’s so critically important because when people have the disease, they are scared… they don’t know what to expect… and they really need an organization like APDA to help hold their hand, and to provide them with resources.”

Cohen and his team at Acorda are working diligently to develop new therapies and medications for people with Parkinson’s disease.

“With the progress we’ve seen already, it’s just a matter of time before we crack the code. Once we know what’s causing Parkinson’s disease, I think it will happen very rapidly… that we will figure out how to stop it,” adds Cohen.