GREENSBORO, N.C., July 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Merz Pharmaceuticals, LLC, commends the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation (BEBRF) for 30 years of dedication to increasing awareness of blepharospasm, a neurological disorder that causes abnormal, involuntary spasms of the muscles around the eye, and raising funds for research. Founded on July 23, 1981, BEBRF has grown to be an invaluable resource for the blepharospasm community.
Many people living with blepharospasm have spent months or even years experiencing the symptoms of uncontrollable eyelid blinking before receiving an accurate diagnosis. It was a similar delay in diagnosis and an overall lack of awareness among both physicians and the public that motivated Mattie Lou Koster to form BEBRF 30 years ago. Today, her daughter Mary Lou Thompson continues to lead the organization, which aims to undertake, promote, develop and carry on the search for the cause and a cure for blepharospasm.
"I'm so pleased to celebrate how far BEBRF has come in the past 30 years," said Mary Lou, President of BEBRF. "It's been such an honor for me to continue my mother's goal of creating a foundation that addresses the needs of patients while raising awareness of blepharospasm so it becomes more easily recognized. I thank the remarkable members of the blepharospasm community and our supportive partners for all of their hard work over the years."
Through a network of local support groups, educational activities and collaboration with other organizations that have similar goals, BEBRF has had a significant impact on the blepharospasm community. The symposiums, newsletters, website, pamphlets and other materials provided by the organization have been influential in helping people better understand their diagnosis while raising awareness of the condition.
"BEBRF has bettered the lives of blepharospasm sufferers and their families worldwide in the last 30 years," said Richard L. Anderson, M.D., F.A.C.S., Center for Facial Appearances, Salt Lake City, Utah. "I look forward to seeing the advances made by BEBRF in the next three decades and I am very proud to be on the Board of this foundation."
In an effort to continue bringing resources to people with blepharospasm across the U.S., Merz Pharmaceuticals will expand its support of BEBRF beyond the national level by providing assistance to local BEBRF support groups. For more information about how Merz can assist your local blepharospasm support group, please contact Merz Professional Services at 1-800-334-0514.
"When I was first diagnosed with blepharospasm nearly 25 years ago, I didn't know where to go for more information," said Anita Croce, BEBRF North Central District Director. "My doctor referred me to BEBRF and since then, I've been working closely with the Foundation to ensure others living with this condition know they're not alone. I'm proud to have seen BEBRF mature from the beginning years to where we are today, with undaunted dedication to empowering patients and providing opportunities to share experiences, encouragement, hope and knowledge."
Although there is no cure for blepharospasm at this time, there are treatments available, including botulinum toxin injections, drug therapy and surgery.
"On this occasion of the 30th anniversary of BEBRF, I wish the foundation continued success in its pursuit of the primary mission to improve the quality of life of each and every person living with blepharospasm through support of research, education and services," said Joseph Jankovic, M.D., Director of the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. "For me, being a founding member and the first Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the BEBRF, and having the privilege to know Mattie Lou and Mary Lou, have been among the most rewarding experiences in my personal and professional life, for which I will always be grateful."
For more information about BEBRF, including local support group meetings, visit www.blepharospasm.org.
Blepharospasm is a rare neurological disorder that affects the muscles around the eye that are used to blink. It can result in involuntary contractions in the eyelids which can vary from an increased blink rate and intermittent eyelid spasm to eyelid closing for most of the day. Blepharospasm usually begins in the fifth to sixth decade of life and is more common in women than in men.
According to an epidemiology study conducted in Rochester, Minn. focal dystonia (which includes cervical dystonia and blepharospasm) is estimated to affect 295 per million people in the U.S.
Merz Pharmaceuticals, LLC is a part of the Merz Group of companies and was established in 1995 to develop and commercialize products for the Merz Group. Areas of therapeutic focus include Neurology, Physiatry, Dermatology, and Podiatry.
With over a century of heritage, the Merz Group is known worldwide for its development of original compounds and formulations for medical professionals and consumers in 90 countries. Globally, Merz is a leader in the development of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of neurological and psychological disorders as well as for aesthetic medicine. Global research is concentrated in fields that have a strong need for therapeutic innovation such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, tinnitus, chronic pain conditions, addictions, and neuromuscular disturbances.
SOURCE Merz Pharmaceuticals