Over a decade of medical research has yielded some promising results in terms of finding something to finally ease our pain and suffering with Fibromyalgia. Dr. William “Skip” Pridgen has been researching Fibromyalgia for the past 15 years while simultaneously working in this full-time surgical practice, Tuscaloosa Surgical Associates PC. Through his research, he has developed a new drug and a treatment that may one day actually provide a cure for Fibromyalgia! His research has also led him to create Innovative Med Concepts, which is a biotech company that one day hopes to bring forth the medical discoveries to the marketplace.
While there are currently various drugs on the market to treat the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, there is no definitive cure for the illness itself. Pridgen, along with Carol Duffy, who holds a doctorate in virology as well as being an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama, have together developed a drug that both believe will cure the problem. So far, two trial phases to test their new drug and treatment have yielded some incredibly promising results. Both researchers hope to soon move on to the final phase of the testing, but that’s a process that could take several years. However, if the results from the trial phase prove to be successful, the United States Food and Drug Administration could approve the drug for widespread use in humans.
Pridgen says “We feel we are on the right track and feel this is a real game changer, it is the tip of the iceberg. What we are discovering will accomplish so much more.” Duffy and Pridgen have thus far completed the first two test phases which must be completed in order for the new drug to come to market. In the first phase, the drug was tested on lab animals, whereas phase two had involved limited tests on Fibromyalgia patients, half of which were given the drug, and the other of the half were given a placebo. Those phase two results are now coming in. Pridgen comments “We got 90% of the results back and they are very positive. In the next couple of weeks we will see all the data.”
Thus far, Pridgen has raised about $5 million dollars for the tests, but additional funding will be needed for phase three testing. Pridgen is looking to various funding sources, which may include partnering with another biotech company or seeking financial backing from investors. The third phase of testing will take approximately 2-3 years to complete and will start with a thorough toxicology study to make certain that the higher doses of the drug will be safe for the Fibromyalgia patients taking it. If the toxicology study results satisfy the FDA, they would give the OK to start testing.
Pridgen first got started with his Fibromyalgia research while he was attempting to help his patients that were dealing with pain from irritable bowel syndrome. He had first discussed the problem with his mother, who is a biotechnologist at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. As the two continued to talk about the subject, they began to theorize that Fibromyalgia may be caused by a herpes virus that weakens one’s immune system. That was when Pridgen began extensively researching Fibromyalgia. Pridgen also states that he didn’t get serious about it until he had accompanied his daughter on a medical mission to the country of Honduras. Pridgen’s daughter is fluent in Spanish, and she served as his translator in treating his patients. He learned that many of them were suffering extreme pain bought on by Fibromyalgia.
Pridgen says that seeing the suffering first hand of those Honduran patients drove him to devote more of his time to researching the condition. It also had meant working two jobs, medical researcher and surgeon. Pridgen admits that working both jobs made life with his family and office personnel tough at times. Pridgen also adds that many people think that the development of any new drug or medical treatment often occurs in a pharmaceutical company, but that it indeed has been happening lately in smaller start-up biotech companies like Innovative Med Concepts.
Pridgen says “The ultimate goal if the drug succeeds will be to get people suffering the pain caused by Fibromyalgia back into the workforce and back to where they can enjoy life.”