Sanofi UK launches Patient Group Bursary Scheme

by Admin 16. April 2014 15:44

Sanofi UK has announced the launch of the 2014 Patient Group Bursary Scheme, supporting initiatives across the UK that make a significant difference to patient empowerment and education.

The aim of the scheme is to support organisations where promoting the needs and interests of patients is at the heart of their work. Sanofi UK will award a share of £50,000 to three groups; two successful applicants will receive the Gold or Silver grant of £25,000 and £15,000 respectively, with £10,000 also being made available to any group with an annual income of £300,000 or less. In a first for the scheme, a separate category has also been included to recognise the large number of smaller UK charities, and to encourage entries from these organisations.

Lynne Regent, CEO of Anaphylaxis Campaign and 2013 Gold Bursary winner said: “The Sanofi Patient Group Bursary Scheme has enabled the Anaphylaxis Campaign to broaden our support for parents with children who are affected by severe food allergies.

“Specialist training programmes for our ten new support group volunteers means we can now provide high quality peer-to-peer support for other families dealing with the consequences of life-threatening allergies.”

“It is a privilege for Sanofi UK to continue the Patient Group Bursary Scheme into its fourth year,” said Steve Oldfield, Managing Director of Sanofi UK and Ireland. “Since 2011, we have seen winners of the scheme make a huge difference to the lives of patients and their families and carers. It is important we continue to provide our support, so these innovative and life changing campaigns can continue.”

All not-for-profit patient groups are welcome to apply for the bursary. Over the past three years, the scheme has awarded bursaries to eight organisations operating across a broad spectrum of disease areas. For further information and the latest update from 2011-2013 bursary recipients, visit


More speed needed on Welsh dementia service improvements

by Admin 16. April 2014 14:30

As demand for dementia services rises in Wales, a report urges faster integration of health and social care to ensure ‘effective support’.

A recent report from the social care regulator has warned that dementia services across NHS Wales will fail to “effectively support” the increasing number of dementia sufferers unless the integration of health and social care is sped up.

Following a review of dementia services, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) warned that current services would not be sufficient to meet demand unless local authorities and health bodies increased the pace of health and social care service integration.

The review, which covered July 2013 to January 2014, also highlighted various areas of concern in dementia services including an inconsistency in service commissioning, an underdevelopment of carers’ services, and a lack of planning and provision for prevention and early intervention services.

Authors also cautioned that health bodies were not focusing on the quality of care and quality of life for patients when monitoring contracts and services.

Imelda Richardson, chief inspector at the CSSIW, said that improvements were being made but the appropriate bodies “must increase the pace at which they are transforming services to deliver integrated models of care that will effectively support people with dementia and their carers.”

Figures suggest that the number of people living with dementia in Wales will rise on average by 31%, with some areas of the country facing a 44% rise in dementia cases, making the provision of services crucial.

The Alzheimer’s Society said the report was a “wake up call” to health bodies in Wales, warning that one in three people would develop dementia.  

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News | NHS

New UK vaccine hope for leading cause of birth defects

by Admin 16. April 2014 12:26

Experts in infection and immunity have made a significant discovery that could lead to the development of a vaccine for a serious virus that affects around 50 per cent of UK adults. 

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading viral cause of congenital birth defects, including blindness, deafness and brain damage, with 1 in 750 babies in the UK being born with permanent disabilities as a result of infection while in the womb. 

Scientists from Cardiff have uncovered a novel defence mechanism to control disease, using the most common form of white blood cell – neutrophils - which are important in killing bacterial infections. It was widely believed that they were specifically designed for this, but the discovery that they can also fight a viral attack is a major breakthrough. 

Dr Ian Humphreys from Cardiff University's School of Medicine said: "Our study shows that neutrophils protect our organs from CMV by producing a protein called TRAIL that can directly kill virus-infected cells. Our body attracts the neutrophils to where the virus is replicating by producing the protein IL-22, which acts as a homing signal. 

"Disease may actually be prevented if we can teach the immune system to quickly send antiviral neutrophils to the first site of infection. We are now developing a vaccine that may protect the body against CMV. Our findings may also have implications for other destructive viruses such as flu, hepatitis and even HIV."

The research was conducted as part of a collaboration between Cardiff University, The Wellcome Trust, Sanger Institute (Cambridge), the University of Oxford and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California.

There is currently no known treatment for CMV. The virus spreads via bodily secretions such as urine, saliva and breast milk, therefore scientists at Cardiff sought to understand how to protect mucosal sites from infection, and how to prevent the virus taking hold in other important organs such as the liver.  

The virus is also a major reason behind life-threatening diseases in bone marrow and organ transplant recipients and is known to have a major impact on the immune system of even healthy adults.


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Drugs | News

Positive limb spasticity drug trial data from Ipsen

by Admin 16. April 2014 11:01

Ipsen has reported positive limb spasticity clinical trial data from a new study of Dysport.

Ipsen made the announcement at the recent World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation in Istanbul. According to the study data, treatment with Dysport demonstrated improvement in muscle tone, clinical benefit and passive function, four weeks after the initial injection in adults with upper limb spasticity.

The safety profile observed in the study proved consistent with the known performance of Dysport. Further findings from the trial will be presented over the next few months at upcoming international congresses.

Dysport is approved for the treatment of upper limb spasticity in many international markets and was first made available in the UK in 1990. It is yet to receive regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.

Executive vice-president for research and development and chief scientific officer of Ipsen, Claude Bertrand, said: "We are pleased that the first robust set of results from the phase III clinical study was presented by the principal investigator of the study, Professor JM Gracies, at this major congress."

The announcement comes after Ipsen recently held a special conference discussing developments in cancer research, attended by leading experts, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Fondation Ipsen. 

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Drugs | News

Study claims link between salt use drop and fall in heart attack deaths

by Admin 16. April 2014 10:45

A new study claims that falling consumption of salt in recent years has been the key factor in a large drop in the number of people dying from a heart attack or stroke in England.

According to the research findings, a 15% drop in average daily consumption of salt contributed significantly to fewer stroke and coronary heart disease fatalities between 2003 and 2011.

The study, published in the medical journal BMJ Open, suggests that over this time period there were 42% fewer stroke fatalities and a fall of 40% in people dying from coronary heart disease.

The researchers claim that falling levels of salt consumption were "an important contributor" to falls in blood pressure over the eight-year period. The authors of the study said: "As a result, the decrease in salt intake would have played an important role in the reduction of stroke and ischaemic heart disease mortality during this period.”

Between 2003 and 2011 average salt intake fell by 15%, from 9.5g a day to 8.1g a day. Over the same time period, mortality rates dropped from 134 to 78 (42% down) per 100,000 population from stroke, and from 232 to 139 (40% down) per 100,000 population for coronary heart disease.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK have more than halved since 1971, falling from 335,000 to 161,000 in 2012. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has made efforts in recent years to convince food manufacturers to gradually reduce the amount of salt they add to their products.

The study also found that several other risk factors for cardiovascular disease also declined during the study period, including average cholesterol and smoking. However average weight as measured by Body Mass Index rose, as did fruit and vegetable consumption.

The authors analysed various official sources of health and lifestyle data, including several years of the Health Survey for England and the national diet and nutrition survey, which gauged salt levels through analysing urine samples.

Some experts suggested that the new paper overplayed the extent to which declining salt intake could be credited with the fall in heart attack and stroke deaths. "Plausibility of assumption does not equal evidence," said Patrick Wolfe, professor of statistics at University College London.


Lilly on ‘diabetes mission’ with T1D Exchange

by Admin 15. April 2014 10:20

Lilly and T1D Exchange have entered into a five-year collaboration in a bid to improve care for Type-1 diabetes patients.

A new five-year research collaboration between Lilly and T1D Exchange will see the duo delving into the patient experience for those with Type-1 diabetes to identify ways to improve care.

As part of the agreement between the pair, Lilly will gain access to T1D’s innovative clinical registry, which links around 70 clinics in the US and connects data on more than 26,000 type-1 patients.Over an initial five year period, Lilly and T1D will undertake various different projects and use the data to fully understand the patient experience in a bid to design better programmes of care. It is hoped that more careful analysis of patient needs can improve outcomes for those with type-1 diabetes.

Dr Dara Schuster, medical fellow at Lilly Diabetes, said the new collaboration would allow the company to “continue our mission of addressing the global diabetes burden through the development of innovative medicines and programmes.”

Novartis Vaccines appoints new North Europe Medical Affairs Director

by Admin 14. April 2014 14:46

Novartis Vaccines has announced the appointment of Dr John Porter to the position of Medical Affairs Director for Cluster North Europe.

Dr Porter joins Novartis Vaccines from Pfizer UK, where he held the role of UK Medical Team Lead, supporting a range of therapeutic areas, including vaccination. He will be responsible for building medical capability across the Novartis Vaccines business, and will be closely involved with the implementation of Novartis Vaccines’ Meningitis B vaccine Bexsero® (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine [rDNA, component, adsorbed]) on the UK National Immunisation Programme (NIP).

Commenting on the new appointment, Mark Collinson, Head of UK, Ireland and Nordic countries at Novartis Vaccines, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Porter at this exciting time for the division as we prepare for the implementation of routine Bexsero® vaccination in the UK.

“His wealth of experience in the field of vaccination makes him the ideal candidate for this position and we look forward to welcoming him to the team.”

Dr Porter said: “After nearly 20 years in development Bexsero® will now be made available to those who need it most. I look forward to working with the team here at Novartis Vaccines to ensure the swift introduction of Bexsero® across the UK, preventing further unnecessary death and disability from Meningitis B.”

Dr Porter has over 12 years of clinical experience, predominantly in paediatric medicine. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne Medical School. Dr Porter also holds an honours degree in Physiological Sciences from Oxford University and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Birmingham.

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News | Personnel

Plans to overhaul NHS for elderly

by Admin 14. April 2014 11:28

Prime Minister David Cameron is to pledge over £400 million to improve medical care for over 75s by moving care from "hospital to the home".

The money is to go towards providing personalised GP care that will benefit almost a million of the most elderly and vulnerable patients in the UK and enable older people to receive care at home and reduce A&E admissions in an attempt to ease pressure on hospitals.

According to senior medical staff, the NHS is facing a crisis as the number of elderly people rises. Over the next 20 years, the number of people aged over 75 is expected to rise from 4.2 million to more than 6.3 million. 

Under the reforms, 800,000 people with the most complex needs and long-term health condition, the majority of whom are over 75, will be given same day appointments if needed and personal care plans which will be managed by their GPs. The "proactive" plans will regularly be reviewed by other health care professionals including doctors and community nurses, to help to anticipate potential problems and reduce hospital admissions.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Moving nearly a million people on to proactive care plans is one of the biggest changes that we need to make in our NHS. People want to know that their parents and relatives will get constant care if they have a long-term condition.

“Many doctors already give great care but I want to make sure this is completely coordinated to head off problems and keep people from going to hospital unnecessarily.”


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News | NHS

Nurses running on empty

by Admin 14. April 2014 11:01

A Unison survey has revealed that despite working without breaks or beyond their shift, nurses still feel that they do not have enough time to devote to patient care. 

A survey of almost 3000 nurses shows a health service under "severe strain", the new report has warned. The survey by Unison showed that two thirds of nurses believed they didn't spend enough time with patients, which had a negative impact on standards of care.

The report, Running on Empty, found that half of nurses felt unsupported, saying that they did not feel confident about raising any concerns they had with their local managers.

Three out of five nurses questioned believed that a lack of staff led to lower standards of care, while almost half said they were looking after eight or more patients.

Unison's head of nursing, Gail Adams, said: "One of the most damaging findings of this survey is how little has changed since last year. Despite all the government rhetoric, despite the Francis, Keogh and Cavendish reports, the spectre of another Mid Staffs still looms large over the NHS. Progress on safe staffing levels has been glacial and that means poorer care and patients still at risk.

"It's clear that despite nurses working through breaks and beyond their hours, they simply do not have enough time to give patients the care and attention they need. That is distressing for patients and for the staff trying to care for them.

"The Government needs to face up to the damage it is inflicting on patients and staff, by not introducing legally enforceable nurse to patient ratios, and take urgent action."

The issues will be debated at Unison's health conference in Brighton, which opens this week.

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News | NHS

New ABPI President vows to tackle pharma challenges “head on”

by Admin 14. April 2014 09:21

Jonathan Emms, UK Managing Director of Pfizer, has pledged to tackle the challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry head on as he takes up his appointment as President of the ABPI.

Mr Emms was elected to the post at the end of last year. He takes over from Deepak Khanna, Regional President, Europe Oncology, MSD UK and will serve for one year with the option of standing for re-election for a further year. 

“It is a great privilege to take on the role of Presidency from Deepak and I want to thank him for his leadership over the past two years,” says Mr Emms.

“Right now, our industry is facing many challenges. High barriers to getting innovative medicines to patients and low and slow usage across the NHS means we risk falling behind our European neighbours. As President, I want to tackle the challenges head on and work together – industry, Government and NHS – to make change happen. 

“Above all else, and a priority for my Presidency, is to ensure that we remain focused on patients – who stand at the heart of everything we do. I want to ensure that patients get the innovative medicines they need, when they need them, so they can enjoy the best possible health.”

Commenting on Jonathan’s appointment, Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the ABPI, said:

“I am very much looking forward to working with Jonathan. This is a significant time for a new President as we enter a new pricing era, and I have no doubt that Jonathan will provide strong leadership to the ABPI and the industry as a whole.

“We have some challenging yet exciting areas to tackle in the coming year, as we look to improve patients’ access to the medicines they are entitled to, continue to strengthen our relationships with the NHS and improve our industry’s reputation. I am confident that under Jonathan’s leadership the ABPI will continue to go from strength to strength and exceed our members’ expectations.”


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