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WTC Health Program Declines to Add Parkinson’s Disease to List of 9/11-Related Conditions

On July 13, 2017, the Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program denied two petitions that sought to have Parkinson’s disease and manganese-induced parkinsonism added to the center’s List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. Under the review process established by the Zadroga Act, medical evidence must show a “health condition is substantially likely to be causally associated with 9/11 exposure.” The two petitions from 9/11 survivors met the threshold test in that they “suggested a potential association between exposure to known 9/11 agents and Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism, including manganese-induced parkinsonism,” but ultimately were rejected for insufficient evidence of causation.

Each petition included peer-reviewed, published, epidemiologic studies of the association of various Parkinson conditions with heavy metal exposure. However, the Administrator felt the petitions were inadequate, because they did not cite such studies among 9/11 survivors. And the Administrator could not find any “peer-reviewed, published, epidemiologic studies of Parkinson’s disease or parkinsonism, including manganese-induced parkinsonism, in 9/11 populations.”

However, in denying the petitions, the Administrator refused to rule out a causal connection to Parkinson’s disease or its related conditions. The question will simply exist in legal limbo until further data is available.

It is not unusual for a condition to meet with resistance before being added to the list. Officials resisted adding prostate cancer until the number of survivors afflicted with the disease reached levels they could no longer ignore. Over time, the number of recognized cancers has grown to 68. It is entirely possible that more survivors will contract a Parkinson’s condition, allowing a study of the 9/11 population to firmly establish a connection.

Unfortunately, while the condition’s listing is in limbo, so are the patients suffering from Parkinson’s. They must rely on their own health insurance to pay for treatment and cannot receive compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund.

If you have questions about your eligibility for WTC health benefits and compensation, contact our experienced attorneys who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call Barasch & McGarry at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.

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