Shingles Support Society – United Kingdom
Neuropathic pain is very hard to treat. People with painful diabetic neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia (following shingles, herpes zoster) often have chronic pain and current treatment does not control it. Therefore the news that Novartis had a candidate drug for these conditions was published in the consumer media last year.
Work has been continuing on this potential drug and in early September a group of us took part in a focus group organised by Novartis in Zurich. Over the course of a day, we heard from sufferers about their experience of the difficult diagnosis as well as of getting treatment that works. Experts in the field of pain treatment explained how chronic pain differs from the acute pain, and executive from the company explained how the development of new drugs proceeds. The idea was to ensure that the company has input from all stakeholders at an early stage. Two clinical studies in 2017 in post-herpetic neuralgia, painful diabetic neuropathy patients are planned and Novartis will communicate with patient associations closer to the initiation date of these studies.
Marian Nicholson, of Shingles Support Society in the UK (and Pain Alliance Europe board member) was a member of this focus group. She is never slow to ask questions and not shy about giving her opinion – and when it came to the group’s opinion on what size or shape tablet we prefer, she quickly took out her ‘first aid bag’ full of pills, so that we could show the Novartis team which pills were our favourite size!