The last time I saw George Ebers was at the European Charcot Foundation meeting in Baveno in 2017. I sat next to him and we had a long chat about MS and his new life in Canada. George had lost his anger and was very content with life. I learnt about all his projects on his farm; his windmill restoration project, his fence building, on being a carpenter and the summer water sports on his lake. I was slightly envious of his lot. I sincerely hope that I will be able to do something completely different, i.e. outside of MS when I retire.
George complimented me on my presentation at the meeting that was addressing social determinants of health and addressing poor access to DMTs in resource-poor environments (see below). He didn’t question whether or not these treatments were effective or not. I think he now realises that as new data and more effective DMTs have emerged that the natural history of MS has changed. In other words, DMTs are delaying the onset of the clinically apparent phase of SPMS and possibly preventing SPMS in some cases.
As for George’s personal attacks on his peers and his rant about the pharma industry, journals, universities and no doubt the regulators these need to be taken in the context of greater social changes. He may be right, but what has happened in MS is simply a representation of what has happened in greater society. Over the last 40 years, we have seen the rise of capitalism and the neoliberal philosophy and its impact on social mores. Everything has a price the debate is how much. Almost everyone is on the take. As the saying goes in America, “If You’re So Clever Why Aren’t You Rich”?
However, there is definitely a change in the tide. Rising inequality is ripping our society apart and is impacting massively on the provision of healthcare services and health outcomes. It is clear the neoliberalism, in its purest form has had its day, and socialism is on the rise again. I don’t think George has to worry too much; the medical profession and the MS Community will find its soul. It is our job to make it happen sooner than later. There are hundreds of thousands of people with MS living in resource-poor environments who need our help.