“At some point, I stopped looking back”

A man who has suffered for 14 years from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) has been a named president of the Agenzia italiana del farmaca (AIFA)- the peak body for regulating pharmaceutical products in Italy.

Mario Melazzini was named president by the Minister of Health in January 2016, after the previous president stood down as a result of accusations of conflict of interest. Melazzini, a 57-year-old doctor, was diagnosed with ALS in 2002. The average life expectancy for sufferers with this condition is around five years. Melazzini himself is wheelchair-bound and depends on a ventilator and on parenteral nutrition. In the summer of 2003 he had an appointment at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland; but he never showed up. Melazzini describes his change of plans simply: “at some point, I stopped looking back”.

In 2006, as president of the Italian Association of ALS patients, Melazzini intervened in the euthanasia debate in Italy that surround the case of Piergiorgio Welby. Among the goals he has in his new role, Melazzini says he wants to encourage the use of generic and biosimilar medicines, and to reinvest money saved to research diseases such as Hepatitis C. 

Dr Phil Elias writes from Rome. 

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | assisted suicide, disability, Switzerland

This article is published by Philip Elias and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

comments powered by Disqus