Dr. Anne Marie Riether’s achievements recognized

Dr. Anne Marie Riether’s achievements recognized

Dr. Anne Marie Riether was a psychiatrist specializing in substance abuse, family problems, and eating disorders. When she was diagnosed with MS in 1993, she also had a young family, and interests that included rock climbing and karate. The Japanese word “osu” captures the stance she takes in dealing with MS. The first character means “push”. The second character, “endure”, combines the images of “blade” and “heart”. Together they signify the concept of enduring with dignity and grace–even if your heart has been cut by a blade.

Dr. Riether continues her karate, which has been beneficial to her sense of balance, and is currently designing a self-defense course for women with disabilities and older adults. She has been involved in the Georgia Chapter as a committee member, and as a speaker at their “Day in the Life of Women with MS” event. She and her family have also participated in the MS Walk and bike events. Among her other achievements, she is proficient in American Sign Language, and enjoys pottery and painting.

The National MS Society gave the 1998 MS National Achievement Award to Dr. Riether in recognition of her important advocacy efforts that will make it possible for people to benefit from cutting-edge medical breakthroughs faster. Dr. Riether volunteered in a clinical study of the effects of a T-cell receptor vaccine on MS, and her symptoms improved. When the trial ended and Dr. Riether’s condition started getting worse, the vaccine was not available to her since the FDA had not approved it.

Dr. Riether, along with Dr. Karen Mullican, another participant in the trial, decided to do something about this situation. They worked with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and contacted other legislators to gather support for “compassionate use” reforms that would allow people with serious conditions to have access to experimental medications while FDA approval is in progress. Both women were invited to Washington to the signing ceremony for the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, which contained such provisions. Anne Marie Riether was able to be in an open trial of the vaccine for another year–a trial made possible by her own perseverance. Today, she is controlling her MS symptoms by taking Avonex.

COPYRIGHT 1999 National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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