This is a reposting. I have just returned from the European Neurological Society (ENS) Meeting in Prague. Nothing has changed since the last time I highlighted the issue of the Red Queen.
I still find the marketing fest at the ENS and ECTRIMS very disturbing; the extent to which each pharma company is trying to out do each other is unbelievable. Bigger stands, more staff and an increasing number of highly competitive satellite symposia. All this comes at a time of increasing austerity with increasing numbers of MSers being unable to access DMTs; either they cannot afford the costs or they are not covered by medical insurance. I heard a sad story about an MSer living in the US who is uninsured; he managed to get Natalizumab free via a patient access scheme, but because of the costs of the monthly infusions he was unable to start the drug. I can’t tell you how upsetting I find it when I get emails from people needing treatments that they cannot afford; I remain very grateful for the NHS and for living in a country with social healthcare!
The Red Queen Effect, is a term taken from the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. The Red Queen said, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” The marketing departments of Big Pharma are simply feeding the Red Queen as they try to compete with each other; in reality they are simply running on the spot with the downside of reputational damage. When MSers see the marketing extravaganza that comes with meetings such as the ENS and ECTRIMS it is no wonder they don’t respect us and doubt our intentions. This is one of the issues that feeds the social phenomenon that underpins the CCSVI conspiracy theory. If we don’t address this issue the CCSVI phenomenon will simply reoccur.
I would like to propose that Big Pharma continues to look at its self in the mirror, rejects the Red Queen Effect and comes up with something more sustainable that will help us regain our self respect and more importantly the respect of the community that we serve.