More MS news articles for February 1999

Man with Multiple Sclerosis Conquers Highest Mountain in Argentine Andes

SOURCE: Berlex Laboratories, Inc.

DENVER, Colo., Feb. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Eric disclaimer Simons, a Boulder, Colorado man who has multiple sclerosis (MS), returned today from a climb to within 1,000 feet of Argentina's highest peak. Simons tackled the 22,841-foot Mount Aconcagua to inspire other people with MS and encourage them to do what they can to fight their disease.

"Everybody with MS has a mountain to climb, whether it's summoning enough energy to get through the morning, maneuver a wheelchair, or climb Aconcagua," said the father of three.

A rugged rock-climber for three decades, Simons was baffled when he suddenly found himself incapacitated after a climb in 1995. In a matter of weeks, he lost all feeling in his body and was partially paralyzed. The diagnosis: MS.

"How could such a robust, healthy person be debilitated, out of the blue, by such a devastating illness as MS?" he recalled asking himself. "Lying flat on my back in bed at home, I wondered what this meant for my family -- would I be there when they needed me?"

Simons struggled with debilitating symptoms for months after his diagnosis, until his neurologist started him on Betaseron®, a medication that has shown remarkable success rates in the treatment of MS. The therapy, along with meditation, stress control, diet, and exercise, swiftly brought Simons out of his bed and back into the mountains.

"Betaseron® lessened the frequency of my MS symptoms, and my ambitions blossomed," said Simons. After conquering Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, Simons started training for even more spectacular climbs.

In 1998, Simons approached Berlex Laboratories, Inc, the developers and marketers of Betaseron®, proposing to climb Aconcagua. The climb, funded by a matching grant from Berlex, benefited the Colorado chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Adventures Within, Inc. (a Denver-based nonprofit organization for people with MS).

Feat Inspires Creation of New Program to Support MS Achievers

Motivated by Simons' achievements, Berlex developed the Betaseron® Champions Of Courage (BCC), a program devoted to helping people with MS realize their dreams despite the disease.

"We founded the BCC on the philosophy that treatments such as Betaseron®, combined with a positive attitude and the support of others, can be life-changing forces that empower people with MS, and help them gain better control over the disease," said Howard Robin, Vice President and General Manager, Berlex Laboratories, Inc.

"Berlex has a history of supporting people with MS. MS Pathways, our extensive patient support service, and Betaseron® Foundation, which assists underinsured MS patients, have placed Berlex and Betaseron® in the forefront when it comes to MS," said Robin.

Throughout the year, a committee made up of members from the MS community will select and sponsor people with MS whose activities are likely to inspire others with the disease.

For more information, please contact the BCC at 1-800 788-1467, or visit the BCC website at

About Betaseron® and Berlex

Betaseron® for SC Injection, developed and marketed by Berlex Laboratories, Inc., is indicated in the U.S. for use in ambulatory patients with relapsing-remitting MS to reduce the frequency of exacerbations. On January 26, 1999, Betaseron® was also approved to slow disease progression in people with secondary-progressive MS in Europe. It is currently awaiting approval of this indication in the U.S. Betaseron® is derived through recombinant DNA technology. The specific mechanism of action of Betaseron® is unknown, but it has been shown to alter expression of surface antigens and alter immune response to those antigens.

Significant side effects, including flu-like symptoms, dyspnea, menstrual disorders, and injection-site reactions, have been reported. Serious adverse events include depression, suicide, suicidal ideation, and injection-site necrosis.

Committed to developing novel therapeutics that address unmet medical needs, Berlex Laboratories, Inc. researches, manufactures, and markets ethical pharmaceuticals in three strategic areas: Diagnostic Imaging, Female Healthcare, and Therapeutics for life-threatening and disabling diseases. Berlex business divisions are located in Montville and Wayne, New Jersey, and Richmond, California.

SOURCE: Berlex Laboratories, Inc.

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