Big Pharma in the studio

Clinical research

One of our teachers was contacted by a pharmaceutical company about coming to class to recruit people for a clinical trial. Her instinct was to decline but she was also conscious of wanting to be a positive part of the PD community and facilitating connections where she could.

I think her instincts are exactly right. A polite decline is the way to go. What we offer in Dance for PD classes is a welcome oasis away from the clinical aspects of Parkinson’s, and I think it is in our best interest to keep it that way. It would be one thing if a pharmaceutical company wanted to underwrite the program, with no strings attached, or if a medical researcher was recruiting participants for a study about dance. But while there is certainly a great need to find subjects for clinical trials in Parkinson’s-related research, I believe the best service we teachers/administrators can provide people with PD is to create a space that is all and only about the art and joy of dancing.

What I usually do with this kind of request is to forward them to Olie Westheimer, the executive director of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, so that she can let members of the support group know about these opportunities. If you are in contact with a support group leader in your area, that might be the best way to go.

—David Leventhal