After earning a degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and a law degree from DePaul University’s College of Law, Anna Richo went on to a career in litigation, business ethics, and compliance in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Named one of FiercePharma’s Top 15 Women in Pharma, Anna Richo brings almost 30 years of experience to her role as executive vice president and general counsel for UCB S.A., a global biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
UCB works with patients and scientists to develop medicines for serious diseases, especially in the field of immunology and neurology. Parkinson’s disease, which is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as the most common neurodegenerative disorder, is a special focus of treatment.
Parkinson’s tends to come on late in life, usually after age 60, and slowly worsens with time, causing tremors and other symptoms. It is difficult to detect and diagnose early, and there is currently no cure. At present, around 6.3 million people all over the world have received a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Parkinson’s is caused by a malfunction of dopamine production in the brain. Among other things, dopamine affects bodily movements, and in addition to tremors, Parkinson’s patients may have trouble sleeping and experience depression, anxiety, and dementia.
UCB manufactures a medicine called Neupro which doctors may prescribe with or without levodopa, a medicine that works to replace the brain’s lacking dopamine. This recommendation will depend on the stage of disease advancement and the prescription guidelines in Europe or the US. These drugs can greatly ease Parkinson’s symptoms, and some patients may also find complementary therapies like physiotherapy or reflexology helpful.