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"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Alert Camus

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Government of Canada Announces New Monitoring System for Multiple Sclerosis

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2011) - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced the creation of a Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Monitoring System (CMSMS).
"We are pleased to support the Canadian Institute for Health Information, working in collaboration with the provinces and territories, the Canadian Network of MS Clinics and the MS Society of Canada, in establishing this system devoted to monitoring the health of those diagnosed with MS," said Minister Aglukkaq. "The health and safety of Canadians is of the highest importance, and we need reliable, national information on MS to help those diagnosed with MS and their health care providers."
"We need reliable information on the health status of Canadians with MS, " said Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones. "Over the long term, this system will help monitor outcomes and identify the most effective therapies in the treatment of MS. The information can also help health system planners identify future needs and plan resource distribution more effectively, to ensure those diagnosed with MS have access to the care they need."
The new monitoring system will give Canadians living with MS, health care professionals, researchers, policy makers and Canadians a better understanding of disease patterns and the use of treatments across Canada. It will give their health care providers new information to support the delivery of care and potentially identify areas for improvement
Many Canadians are affected by MS and in fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.
"The Canadian Network of MS Clinics is pleased to be part of this new collaborative initiative," said Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, from the Canadian Network of MS Clinics. "Our clinics are dedicated to ensuring the best care for those diagnosed with MS and this system will help provide the information we need to do so." 
MS Society President and CEO Yves Savoie also reiterated that there are many questions that still need to be answered. "We are pleased that the Government of Canada chose to support a national monitoring system for MS. People living with MS need more information to make the best choices for the benefit of their health."
The findings from this monitoring initiative will be reported to those with MS, health care professionals, researchers, policy makers, stakeholders and Canadians. The Government of Canada is sponsoring other MS research initiatives as well, and will fund clinical trials for the Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment, if the scientific expert working group recommends clinical trials be undertaken, based on scientific evidence. The Public Health Agency of Canada is conducting a $15 million study of neurological conditions in the Canadian population over four years. To date, the Government of Canada has invested $49 million in MS-related research.
For more information, please contact
Office of Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health Canada
Jenny VanAlstyne
613-957-0200
or
Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
613-941-8189

Is there a net benefit to marijuana use in ameliorating MS?

American Academy of Neurology (R)

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, MARCH 28, 2011
Marijuana Use May Hurt Intellectual Skills in MS Patients

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Any possible pain relief that marijuana has for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be outweighed by the drug’s apparent negative effect on thinking skills, according to research published in the March 29, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Some clinical trials have reported a mild benefit of marijuana on pain, bladder dysfunction and spasticity in MS, an auto-immune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
The researchers studied two groups of 25 people each between the ages of 18 and 65 with MS. One group used marijuana and the other reported no marijuana use for many years. Urine tests were used to confirm use or non-use of the drug. The groups were matched so there would not be significant differences due to age, gender, level of education, IQ before diagnosis, level of disability and duration of time with MS.
On average, the duration of marijuana use was 26 years. A total of 72 percent of users reported smoking marijuana on a daily basis while 24 percent reported weekly use and one person reported bi-weekly use.
Participants’ cognitive skills were tested. The research found that people who used marijuana performed significantly worse with respect to attention, speed of thinking, executive function and visual perception of spatial relationships between objects. For example, on a sensitive test of information processing speed, those using marijuana scored approximately one third lower than non-users. Those who used marijuana were also twice as likely as non-users to be classified as globally cognitively impaired, defined as impairment on two or more aspects of intellectual functioning.
“Given that about 40 to 60 percent of MS patients have problems with cognitive function to begin with, any drug that may add to this burden is cause for concern,” said study author Anthony Feinstein, MPhil, MD, PhD, with Sunnybrook Health Services Center and the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. “This study provides empirical evidence that prolonged use of inhaled or ingested marijuana in MS patients is associated with poorer cognitive performance, and these effects have to be weighed against any possible benefit of using marijuana for medicinal purposes.”
The study was supported by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,500 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visithttp://www.aan.com.