Augusto Odone, Father Behind ‘Lorenzo’s Oil,’ Dies at 80
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: October 29, 2013
Augusto Odone, an Italian economist with no medical training who flouted scientific protocol and doctors’ advice to help concoct an experimental medicine that extended the life of his terminally ill son and inspired a Hollywood film, “Lorenzo’s Oil,” died on Friday in Acqui Terme, in northern Italy. He was 80.
J. Michael Bishop, an American microbiologist who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine, described “Lorenzo’s Oil,” the film, as misleading in its claims about the oil extract and “deeply troubling for its portrayal of medical scientists as insensitive, close-minded and self-serving” — a viewpoint he found to be encapsulated by one particular line spoken late in the film by Lorenzo’s father: “These scientists have their own agenda, and it is different from ours.”
But, writing in The Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995, Dr. Bishop cautioned fellow scientists against dismissing the public sentiment the film conveyed. “Here is a warning science cannot take lightly,” he wrote, “a warning to explain ourselves more clearly, a warning even to change some of our ways.”