At Whitehall seminar, sufferers learn about controversial Prokarin
September 15, 2002
By Dan Shope
Of The Morning Call
They came to the Ramada Inn in Whitehall Township Saturday morning with canes, crutches, wheelchairs and hope.
Nearly 150 people, most suffering from multiple sclerosis, crowded into
a banquet hall to meet Elaine DeLack in an event sponsored by Hartzell's
Pharmacy in Catasauqua.
MS, as the disease is called, has no cure.
But DeLack, 43, a nurse flown in from Stanwood, Wash., offered them hope. Not hope for a cure, but hope to relieve fatigue symptoms involving the disease.
She has developed Prokarin, a medical patch that combines a histimine and caffeine, and the drug is drawing attention from MS sufferers across the country.
Prokarin is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors can prescribe it because the drug's ingredients are approved for use in other medications.
A cure could be down the line, DeLack hopes.
She also suffers from MS.
''When I learned I had it, I needed to find something for myself,'' she said. ''Maybe I was selfish, but I looked elsewhere.''
DeLack is a native of Montana, where she spent much of her life riding horses. But after she gave birth to her son, she didn't feel the same. And she was diagnosed with the disease in 1988.
She moved to Washington State in 1990, where she began to search for alternative treatments. She came across a bit of history that inspired her to develop a treatment.
Just after World War II, patients came from around the world to St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma, Wash., to be treated by Dr. Hinton Jonez, a pioneer in treating MS.
The doctor used an enzyme found in the bloodstream to help patients make surprising progress. When Jonez died suddenly, so did his ideas — until a determined DeLack intervened.
With the help of a pharmacist and her doctor, she found a way to use it on herself. Now, she uses a patch.
She applied for a patent for her Prokarin mix, which began a five-year battle with the medical establishment over recognition.
She found that the world of medical research was dominated by doctors, and nurses weren't taken seriously.
But on Jan. 30, the Multiple Sclerosis Journal reported that Prokarin seemed to significantly reduce fatigue.
However, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society notes the study was small — 21 participants tried Prokarin and five used a placebo — and caffeine may have played a part in reducing the tiredness of some in the sample.
FDA approval is not likely soon, especially since DeLack hasn't teamed up with a major drug company.
Vicki Garis, 50, of Bethlehem said she was shocked to learn she had MS five years ago after suffering an eye problem. She came to the seminar to learn about some choices in her treatment.
''I work at the Bethlehem Township offices, and I have to keep exercising,''
she said. ''This was a chance to learn.''
Copyright © 2002, The Morning Call