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The Doctor’s Surgery: At last, some heartening news

Regulars | November issue

A ray of sunshine has shone through the cloud of gloom that envelopes British medicine. Canakinumab – an anti-inflammatory drug – has been investigated by Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis for years. It has now shown signs that it might possibly be helpful for such problems as gout, obstructive lung disease and, statistically most importantly, coronary arterial disease. Currently, the injections are discouragingly expensive but, once a drug becomes generally used, its cost tumbles. If it proved to be helpful, there would be savings from a reduction in the number of patients needing hospital admission for such treatments as bypass surgery and stent-fitting. The recent research on Canakinumab has been with patients who were also usually taking statins. Even if it proves to be a revolutionary drug, statins will still be essential. Despite all the statistics – that demonstrate the advantages of taking statins and their...

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