"Dallas Buyers Club" may be a surefire winner for Oscar prognosticators, especially for the lead actor and lead supporting actor, Matthew McConnaughey and Jared Leto, but it also has a lot of connections for people with Multiple Sclerosis.
The based-on-truth story is about an actual AIDS patient named Ron Woodroof,who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found that they worked at helping his symptoms. He began distributing them to others with AIDS sufferers by establishing the Dallas Buyers Club and thereby flying in the face of the FDA.
The book by Charles Fox, "With a Little Help from My Friends: A Love Story" is very similar because Fox had Multiple Sclerosis for more than three decades and he fought to get ahold of expensive interferon to treat himself. That was way before it was accepted as a treatment by the government.
Woodroof was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. He helped set up a buyers club to help AIDS patients buy alternative treatments that were considered illegal in the country.
Many consider the uncanny connection to MS medications all too real, because of the slowness or reluctance for certain medications to be approved for MS.
There was some incorrect information released about some MS medications that could have been approved sooner, and some alternative treatments were scoffed as pseudo science, or out-and-out frauds. Yet, there is some evidence that certain treatments such as the CCSVI treatment, stem cells, hyperbaric oxygen and nutritional diet changes have actually helped people with the neurological illness.
On the other hand, there are some cases where medication dangers are downplayed. According to one article (click here) the potential brain disease of PML for people on Tysabri (an injection once every four weeks), is considered very helpful, although the often fatal brain disease has claimed 3 percent of the more than 90,000 people on the medication.
According to a Harper's Magazine article:
"The Dallas Buyers Club and Charles Fox's account raises the issue of how drug regulation and in particular the FDA works. It is clear the FDA has a mandate to protect the citizens of the US from harmful drugs, however, the process of drug development is so painfully slow that if you have diseases such as AIDS or MS the delays in getting effective drugs to market means that many people died or became disabled waiting, sometimes in vain, for access to the relevant drugs. . . . I am much wiser for seeing the movie and I recommend it to you all."
Whether or not the movie, or the actors, win golden statuettes this weekend, it's more important to note the message of the film, especially for those with chronic illnesses who depend on medications to stay alive.