CategoryPolitics, campaigns and information

Do no harm

Primum non-nocere is a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm”.  On the tube this morning I recognised one of our medical students reading Henry Marsh’ book “Do no harm”.  He is a semi-retired neurosurgeon, turned author, who uses his past patients to discuss ethical dilemmas and to criticise the NHS. His book does showcase the life of a surgeon, warts and all.  It is clear that to be a...

Air pollution and MS

We know that smoking, passive smoking and solvent exposure increase your risk of getting MS. The hypothesis, supported by animal work, suggests these risk factors alter antigens or proteins in the lung that then trigger autoimmunity. In other words, the altered proteins are interpreted as being foreign by the immune system.  Particulate air pollution is another respiratory toxin that has...

What’s in a name?

The Barts-MS team are in the final stages of preparing a UK MS Society grant application to tackle the ‘real MS’ that lives inside you. Our focus is on studying or defining what is smouldering MS. This is a massive unmet need and refers to what we currently call inactive SPMS and PPMS. This is likely to affect a lot of you; at present, you remain in the so-called untreated MS camp. Ocrelizumab...

The cost of treating MS

One of my patients recently asked if they could return their tablets back to stock as they had decided not to make the swap as initially planned. Of course, the tablets could not be returned, and it’s a couple of hundreds of pounds down the tube. The patient was not to blame for this. Why should a tablet be worth more than the currency of gold? In fact, unanimously high cost drugs top all...

Time is Brain

So what has the UK’s poor performance in relation to cancer survival has to do with MS? A lot. These cancer statistics are collected as part of a national audit and are a bellwether for NHS services in general. If we had national MS statistics they would indicate similar problems, i.e. delays, delays, more delays and poorer outcomes. This is why we wrote a policy document ‘MS Brain Health: Time...

“Useless Lives” – the Dark Story of MS and the Nazis

At the start of the UK Disability History Month, let us not forget… By Rachel Horne I never thought I would end up writing the words Nazi and multiple sclerosis in the same sentence.  Then I went to Auschwitz.  After passing under the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei “Work Sets You Free” gate, our group followed the tour guide into Block 5. There inside the dim, low-ceilinged room, I was...

Participating in Oratorio-Hand?

At the recent ORATORIO-HAND investigators’ meetings in Barcelona and Athens, several investigators’ made the point that it may be hard to retain people with PPMS in this trial because ocrelizumab has already been licensed to treat MS. I said YES and NO.  For one a lot of neurologists, HCPs and payers don’t think the original ORATORIO trial was positive. They think the trial was driven by the 25%...

Unaccountable

The European Union and its Institutions have been heavily criticised as part of the Brexit debate as been undemocratic and unaccountable to the man or woman on the street. However, it is only when their decisions impact on you, or your patients, that you realise that these critics have a valid point.  Last week the European Medicine Agency’s safety committee (PRAC or Pharmacovigilance Risk...

Alignment

Professor Gavin Giovannoni (Prof G) and his team of clinicians and researchers at Barts and at the Royal London Hospital — like many of their medical colleagues — are in frequent contact with pwMS (people with multiple sclerosis), many of whom are untreated. The reason that these pwMS are on no treatment is often economic. No treatment due to economic reasons and can occur in both developed as...

Rituximab combination therapy

A dark age is when society regresses; it goes backwards in time. The shocking revelations in last week’s New England of Journal of Medicine on the dire situation of some type 1 diabetics upset me and indicates we may be entering a dark age. An age when we are forcing our patients to turn their backs on innovation because they, or society, can’t afford to purchase the necessary medications...

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