A Breath of Fresh Air

Gary Greenwald provides cost-free, cutting-edge treatment to patients with respiratory ailments

Ethan Kaminsky

Because he conducts clinical trials in his Rancho Mirage office, Dr. Gary Greenwald offers innovative drug therapies two to three years before they are available to the general public. Hundreds of his patients have been treated for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sinusitis, and forms of acute and chronic bronchitis through FDA-approved trials.

And because these treatments are in Phase 3 (a data collection period that marks the last phase before drugs are released on the market), pharmaceutical companies pick up the tab, leaving the patient with cost-free medications. “The medications that are considered the best today, our patients have been on for years,” Greenwald says. “One of our strengths is the ability to offer new, cutting-edge treatments at a time when the financial constraints on patients can take a toll. Here, they get to experience new treatments and a high level of follow up for free.”

The research keeps the doctor — who specializes in allergy-immunology and pulmonary disease — engaged and thinking about his work. “By the time a drug gets to Phase 3, there is a good chance it is going to work well and have a good safety profile,” he says. “We’re collecting the final data that will go to the FDA for submission.”

Greenwald holds four board certifications: allergy and immunology, pulmonary disease, and critical care medicine from UCLA and internal medicine from Yale University. He served six years as director of Eisenhower Medical Center’s board of directors and has been co-director of the nonprofit Advances in Medicine Research Center with his wife, Dr. Maria Greenwald, since 1995.

Having found that many symptoms cross over the two fields of allergy-immunology and pulmonary disease, Greenwald incorporates new research into his practice and takes a knowledgeable and holistic treatment approach.

For 20 years, he has practiced locally, following the path of his father, who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. He says he has been able to see young patients grow up and older ones grow healthy. Meanwhile, his own three daughters have grown up, too: one in high school (and accepted at Yale); a sophomore at Harvard; and a senior at Yale who is interested in medicine. “I think it’s a great field, but I wouldn’t push anyone,” Greenwald says of his daughter’s pursuits. “One really has to want to practice medicine and enjoy taking care of patients. If that’s something you enjoy, it will be gratifying. We tell our children to do what they love, whatever it is.”

Greenwald says medicine is heading for a new era of targeted therapy. “As we get more and more sophisticated, we can pick out certain genes to determine how someone will respond to treatment and if they will have side effects — and that’s very exciting.” Even so, he would like to see better ways to prevent the ongoing damage that occurs even after people have stopped smoking. However, he enjoys the rewards of his ability to help patients with other problems.

“When people have allergies and asthma, they can’t focus or think straight because they are distracted by how they feel,” he says. “It’s really great when someone says, ‘Doctor, thank you for helping me breathe.’”
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