Saturday, 24 December 2016

Beware The Neuropathy Medicine Men

Today's post from (see link below) is only a part-article (for the rest you need to sign up) but it provides all you need to know about the subject as a casual reader. Normally this blog wouldn't publish only part of an article but in this case, it is a perfect example of how unscrupulous organisations in the pharmaceutical industry will go to extreme lengths to exploit vulnerable and desperate people. Everybody with neuropathy needs to beware of anybody offering unproven and untested products that claim to either help or even cure (not possible) nerve damage and yet thousands are so desperate (having tried everything else) that they will grab at any straw to gain relief from their symptoms. In this case, it's happened in India, where they clearly thought that it would go unnoticed among the millions of sufferers in a less-affluent society but Googling neuropathy anyway, will bring up dozens of fake sites, offering this or that solution and aiming to relieve you of your cash. People are gradually learning that 'let the buyer beware' is a sensible strategy in the modern digital age but often blindly trust anything medical! Always check, double check and consult your doctor about anything that makes exaggerated claims...but you knew that,didn't you!

Health camps and surveys: marketing an unproved, unapproved drug in India

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 20 December 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6573

A US drug maker encouraged Indian doctors to prescribe a drug unproven for diabetic neuropathy that until recently lacked central government approval. Frederik Joelving investigates

It was an attractive invitation: outside doctors’ offices throughout India, where hundreds of millions of people struggle to afford basic healthcare, posters from a subsidiary of the US drug company Abbott Laboratories advertised free neuropathy tests for anyone with symptoms such as tingling or numbness in the feet.

But those who took up the offer may have spent their money on a product useless for treating neuropathy.

According to internal Abbott communications, published by the New York Times in August,1 people who tested positive at the drug maker’s “neuropathy camps” were prescribed Abbott India’s Surbex Star, a mix of antioxidants, minerals, and B vitamins that the company promotes for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. The BMJ was unable to find any evidence that this product had been clinically tested, much less proved effective for this indication.

“These combination supplements, unless you’re deficient in something, they really don’t do anything,” said Christopher Gibbons, head of the neuropathy clinic at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. The one possible exception is the antioxidant α-lipoic acid in Surbex Star, he told The BMJ. Studies show that it can improve neuropathic pain when given intravenously, though oral therapy (Surbex Star is taken orally) may not have clinically significant benefits.2

An Abbott spokesman declined to discuss the science behind Surbex Star, which in India is considered a drug because it is marketed to treat a disease.

The lack of evidence did not deter the drug maker. In March 2015 an email from an Abbott India sales representative to his manager described a neuropathy camp as a “big success,” noting that all 30 patients with positive neuropathy tests …

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