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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dementia, Alzheimers. Hopes raised, hopes dashed.

Solanezumab was to be a great breakthrough drug, the first to effectively treat the growing scourge of dementia, and in particular, Alzheimer's disease. Of course it has proven to be no such thing. But the history of the drug demonstrates the machinations of the pharmaceutical industry, the willingness of medical charities, patient support groups, and the mainstream media to sing, loudly and in tune, with the drug companies hymn sheet. It also demonstrates how patients are misinformed about the nature of their disease (dementia, et al), how they have their hopes raised about 'great scientific advances' in medical treatment, only to have them totally dashed.

It also demonstrates the need for a new approach to dealing with the many epidemics of disease we have been facing over the last half century and more. There is hope, but it does not exist in a packet of pharmaceutical drugs!

The rise of dementia, and in particular Alzheimer's disease, has been staggering. The Alzheimer's Society published a major study on the social and economic impact of dementia in the UK in February 2007, and again in November 2014. They provided the most detailed information about the prevalence and impact of dementia in the UK. The 2014 findings showed that 1 in 79 of the entire UK population, and 1 in 14 of the population aged over 65 years, has dementia. They estimated that there would be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK in 2015 (In 2007 report the estimate was 700,000). The total number of people with dementia in the UK was forecasted to increase to over 1 million by 2025, and over 2 million by 2051.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics reports that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has now replaced heart diseases as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, accounting for 11.6% of all deaths registered in 2015. Similar figures can be found for the rise of Alzheimer's disease in most other western countries. The projected number of people expected to be suffering with Alzheimer’s by 2050 is 100 million worldwide.

The disease was first described in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Even so, after 110 years, conventional medicine still does not know why we are facing such an epidemic. For instance, when talking about the causes of Alzheimer's disease the NHS Choices website (the voice of conventional medicine in Britain) can describe what happens to the brain, but states that "It's not known exactly what causes this process to begin." As far as treatment for dementia is concerned they state simply that "there's currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease."

This is why hopes and expectations were raised when the drug company, Eli Lili, announced that they were developing a drug called Solanezumab. It was patented in 2002. Millions of dollars were spent on developing it, based on potential sales should the drug prove to be effective and safe. The hype that followed seemed to indicate confidence in the drug, certainly according to the mainstream media, which as usual was prepared to publicise the optimism, and raise the hope of sufferers and their carers. BBC News, as usual, led the way.

           "The first details of how a drug could slow the pace of brain decline for patients with early stage Alzheimer's disease have emerged. Data from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly suggests its solanezumab drug can cut the rate of the dementia's progression by about a third.... A new trial is due to report next year and should provide definitive evidence. The death of brain cells in Alzheimer's is currently unstoppable. Solanezumab may be able to keep them alive.... solanezumab attacks the deformed proteins, called amyloid, that build up in the brain during Alzheimer's. It is thought the formation of sticky plaques of amyloid between nerve cells leads to damage and eventually brain cell death."

This kind of pharmaceutical hype is usually meekly parroted by the mainstream media. Our news media, largely funded by pharmaceutical advertising, even the BBC which is not funded in this way, can alway be counted on to promote any new pharmaceutical drug! Health charities and patient support groups do exactly the same. Solanezumab was promoted by the Alzheimers Society, which is also largely funded by donations from Big Pharma companies. The drug worked. And, the hype emphasised, it had no side effects. Another wonder drug was about to come to our aid! Yet what, exactly, were they getting excited about. According to Wikipedia, not very much!

          "Solanezumab was tested in two phase 3 clinical trials ..... oth were randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. Patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease received either placebo or ... solanezumab infusions every 4 weeks over 18 months. A total of 1012 patients participated in (one trial, the second) enrolled another 1040 patients. Both studies were not able to show a difference in cognition and memory between the treated and the placebo group. (My emphasis).  However, a subgroup analysis of only patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease showed less worsening of cognition in patients receiving solanezumab compared to placebo, which means the progression of the disease was slowed down. There was no effect on disease progression in patients with moderate symptoms."

This does not sound much to get excited about! Nor does it appear to justify raising the hopes and expectations of dementia sufferers throughout the world. But the hype was all good advertising, entirely free, for the drug companies. Through it they could demonstrate that medical science was winning the battle against disease! And it encourages thousands of people to run, walk, cycle, swim, and generally to achieve great things, all in the name of some medical charity, to help fund this kind of research.

Yet all pharmaceutical drugs usually work on these small, marginal, limited benefits, suitably hyped of course! And on this basis a third trial into solanezumab was financed.

          "Since the first two ... trials show a positive effect in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease, Lilly launched another phase 3 trial ... Patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease received ... solanezumab every 4 weeks for 80 weeks.... This trial failed to show positive results, despite the high expectations."

The BBC, via this article by Fergus Walsh, a particularly enthusiastic promoter of pharmaceutical drugs, were apologetic.

          "A major trial of a drug to treat mild dementia due to Alzheimer's disease has ended in failure.
Patients on solanezumab did not show any slowing in cognitive decline compared to those treated with a placebo, or dummy drug. The results of the trial were much anticipated after promising data was released last year. The phase 3 trial ..... involved more than 2,000 patients with Alzheimer's disease. The drug targeted the build up of amyloid protein, which forms sticky plaques in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's. It is thought the formation of these plaques between nerve cells, known as neurons, leads to damage and eventually brain cell death."

The Alzheimer's Society, likewise, expressed their disappointment, and commented that 'promising therapies' do sometimes fail at this stage "but this is particularly disheartening given that a similar treatment, Bapinezeumab, also recently fell at the last hurdle". It continued with its message of hope, urging us on, consoling us with the thought that there are 150 times more clinical trials focusing on treating people in the late stages of cancer than Alzheimer's disease.

          "Further investment in trials is urgently needed to identify effective therapies to improve the lives of the 800,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia."

It is the usual story. The birth, childhood, adulthood, old age, and death of new pharmaceutical drugs that I have described elsewhere. Except, perhaps, that this drug was still-born, and so we are still waiting, or perhaps will never discover, its full disease inducing side effects!

What has not been said, because it is never openly admitted by the conventional medical establishment, is that one major cause of dementia, and the explosion of Alzheimer's disease in particular, has been pharmaceutical drugs taken by patients for other medical reasons. The evidence is there, in plenty, for anyone to see. Many drugs and vaccines cause dementia, not just a few. Any vaccine that contains mercury (thimerosal) or aluminium (most do), the flu jab, in particular, antidepressants drugs, antipsychotic drugs, Benzodiazepine and other sleeping drugs, anticholinergic drugs, antihistamine drugs, proton pump drugs, and Statin drugs.

So one way we can avoid dementia, and so discard the need to develop dementia drugs, is to stop taking pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines that cause it, and instead look for a safer, more effective medical therapy, such as homeopathy. And for those who are already suffering from the condition, the Natural Health website article, 'Muteness on B vitamins and lifestyle after Pharma's Alzheimer's flop'  suggests a simple a straightforward treatment. It is based on diet, in particular vitamin B, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. For anyone with early dementia, or their carers, this treatment is readily available, and I recommend you read the article, and follow the regimen involved.

Medical fundamentalists, who hate any other kind of medical treatment other than pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, will ridicule such advice. To which the simple response is - tell me what conventional, drug-based medicine has to offer as an alternative. The response will be a deafening silence! The trouble is there is no cost to patients, and therefore no profit for the pharmaceutical companies, in such a treatment!