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Can’t take, won’t take: why patients do not take their medicines, with Nick Barber

James M Heather30 October 2012

Image courtesy of rutty on Flickr

We’re now a few weeks into this term’s batch of Lunch Hour Lectures and the bill is as strong as ever. Thursday 25 October saw Professor Nick Barber, from the UCL School of Pharmacy, presenting his research.

While you may recognise him from the BBC2 documentary Victorian Pharmacy, Professor Barber came to shed some light on why some patients are unable, or willing, to take their medicines as they’re prescribed.

He started with the first surprising fact of the talk; of all the patients on medication for chronic health conditions, 30 to 50 percent do not take their prescriptions as they are supposed to. This is not a trivial matter, leading to a huge amount of suffering and premature death worldwide.

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Progress in transplantation, organ donation and research

news editor27 April 2012

On 23 April, a collection of researchers, medical professionals, patients and members of the general public congregated at the Royal Free Hospital for an afternoon of enlightenment and discussion.

The Rt Hon. Adrian Bailey MP opened the conference, revealing that three people die each day in the UK waiting for an organ transplant. This highlighted the importance of the situation, explaining why the shortfall in donor organs needs to be addressed urgently.

Session 1: Pathway of Transplantation, Donation and Research
Professor Brian Davidson (UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science) was tasked with providing “a brief history of transplantation, organ donation and research”. He managed to offer a comprehensive overview, focusing on the dramatic improvements in organ transplantation since the 1970s.

Professor Davidson was clear, however, that there are still necessary advancements to be made. He mentioned the disparity between donation rates across Europe – the rate in the UK is half that of Spain.

Possible solutions to bridge the gap were explored, such as surgical innovation (splitting donor organs and live donor transplants), xenotransplantation and tissue engineering.

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Does surgery help patients with asbestos-related cancer?

Clare S Ryan9 February 2012

When the link between asbestos and lung disease, and a previously rare cancer called mesothelioma, was first recognised in the early 1980s, doctors quickly realised that they were going to see a dramatic increase in the number of cases over the coming decades.*

As doctors, they wanted to find the most effective treatment, and duly started implementing the therapy that they knew best – surgery in combination with chemotherapy.

However, in the recent Lunch Hour Lecture, ‘Cutting to cure cancer and ‘the limits set by nature’’, Professor Tom Treasure asked the uncomfortable question: is there any evidence that nearly 30 years of performing radical surgery has helped patients?

Professor Treasure, a cardiothoracic surgeon from UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit, started to answer this question by looking at patients whose primary cancer was in the lining of the lungs, known as ‘mesothelioma’.

An initial review of the existing literature describing outcomes of patients who had had surgery to remove mesothelioma tumors found very limited data, much of which was anecdotal.

On the basis of their literature review, Professor Treasure and colleagues from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital decided to conduct a randomised control trial to assess the survival outcomes of patients who had had mesothelioma surgery, versus those who hadn’t.

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