28/11/2020

Science, Ineptitude or Commercial Interest: How are Key Healthcare Decisions Made?

 




The good news is that the government has just announced free Vitamin D pills for 2.5 million vulnerable people in England. People who are able to buy a Vitamin D supplement and start taking them now, ahead of a free delivery, are advised to do so. I for one am delighted because research going back to the 1920’s has been shining a light on the merits of Vitamin D. That’s nearly a century ago.

The bad news is that the Secretary of Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has for quite some time now been arguing that there is no value in considering Vitamin D supplements. This in spite of research from around the world showing a link between coronavirus and Vitamin D deficiency in patients.

It gets a bit messier, as just a few weeks ago the health secretary told the House of Commons that a “trial” investigating Vitamin D had taken place, and that it did not “appear to have any impact” on the effects of Covid-19. Just when you thought things could not get any worse…. wait for it…. officials have now admitted that NO clinical trials on the vitamin have been carried out at all.

Not sure about you, but I feel numb.

On the face of it the honourable gentleman is either;

  • Totally incompetent – in which case why is he in the position of deciding on matters of   life and death? or
  • Has been very economic with the truth or
  • Possibly has conflicting commercial interest

It is well within your democratic right to ask which is it?

I however refuse to accept the allegation of incompetence levied at Mr Hancock or many of his other Oxonian colleagues. As an extremely lucky guy who won a Scholarship to Oxford I have the greatest respect for the University and during the many years I spent there not once did I come across anyone or anything less than awe inspiring, thought provoking and amazing.

There is another insight I can share with you to help you find an answer to the above question and that is a 2010 editorial in The British Medical Journal – entitled, “Conflicts of interest and pandemic flu”. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

 

WHO must act now to restore its credibility, and Europe should legislate

The world should of course be thankful that the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic proved such a damp squib. With so many fewer lives lost than had been predicted, it almost seems ungrateful to carp about the cost. But carp we must because the cost has been huge. Some countries—notably Poland—declined to join the panic buying of vaccines and antivirals triggered when the World Health Organization declared the pandemic a year ago this week. However, countries like France and the United Kingdom who have stockpiled drugs and vaccines are now busy unpicking vaccine contracts, selling unused vaccine to other countries, and sitting on huge piles of unused oseltamivir. Meanwhile drug companies have banked vast profits—$7bn (£4.8bn; €5.7bn) to $10bn from vaccines alone according to investment bank JP Morgan. Given the scale of public cost and private profit, it would seem important to know that WHO’s key decisions were free from commercial influence.

An investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2912), finds that this was far from the case. As reported by Deborah Cohen and Philip Carter, some of the experts advising WHO on the pandemic had declarable financial ties with drug companies that were producing antivirals and influenza vaccines. As an example, WHO’s guidance on the use of antivirals in a pandemic was authored by an influenza expert who at the same time was receiving payments from Roche, the manufacturer of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), for consultancy work and lecturing.

Commercially speaking there is not a single large corporation that would benefit from the sale of Vitamin D. No one therefore cares enough to put the lobbying, PR and deal making of the nature you are likely to see employed to promote a killer drug like Oxycontin to promote the benefits of Vitamin D.

Irrespective of what you decide the answer to the question regarding Mr Hancock is – the big ask of any guardian angel of health is for it to promote what makes the sick healthy and what prevents the healthy from becoming sick on the basis of unadulterated science rather than formidable lobbying.

I for one am clear as to which approach will ensure the longevity of our wonderful democracy.


Dr Sepe Sehati, November 2020

Note: Neither ClickTell or I have any shares or commercial interest in any Vitamin D related companies. Especially in winter months you and your wonderful family is likely to benefit from taking 10 microgram/day of Vitamin D supplement or cod liver oil. As always check with your GP first.


29/06/2019

UK Medicinal Cannabis Policy Summit 2019

As important as the questions we answered
were the questions we asked....

It was a pleasure for me to chair the CBD session at The Medicinal Cannabis Policy Summit on Thursday 27th June.

I am indebted to the panel comprised of;
Josh Stanley | Co-Founder, Charlotte’s Web.
Rick Brar | CEO, Brains Bioceutical.
Wendi Young | Regulatory Director, Mile High Labs.
Ed McDermott | Director EMMAC Life Science.
and Nick Horniman  of Sativa Investments - for sharing their wisdom with such passion and enthusiasm.


Lastly, we could not have wished for a better day or a better venue than Somerset House. Thank you to The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis for organising.

Dr Sepe Sehati






16/01/2017

It’s all a matter of trust: towards unguarded interaction with consumers


A 'global implosion' of trust is fuelling rising levels of distrust of government, business, media and non-governmental organisations, reveals Edelman's 2017 Trust Barometer.

The findings of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, reinforces the view that the collapse in trust helps to explain political events such as last year's Brexit vote and the Trump election victory.




These findings also echo our long-held view at ClickTell, our evidence-based consulting firm, that one of the foundation-rocking damages inflicted by the recent financial and ecological turbulences has been a catastrophic breakdown of trust.

As far as the world of brands, PRs, and advertising firms is concerned, our analysis pointed towards the need to establish an evidence-based methodology addressing such clear consumer messages.

Consequently, last week we launched ‘ClickTell Reveal’ with the aim of providing our PR, advertising and brand partners with the diverse and evolving scientific knowledge, insight and evidence required for authoritative and persuasive storytelling - something that clearly the consumers of today are and will continue to demand.


25/05/2016

When in China, do as the Chinese do.

In recent weeks Apple has been reacting to some of the serious and inevitable challenges facing not only its sales, but also the company itself in China.



Apple’s total sales for all products in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, slid a whopping 26% in the first three months of this year.

Additionally, Chinese regulators recently shut down Apple’s online book and film services and earlier in May Apple also lost its trademark fight over 'iPhone' name in China.

Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing is a sign that Apple has at last initiated the process of developing a deep understanding of the Chinese business environment and the sort of strategy required to navigate it.

Our observations clearly indicate that as far as the Chinese market is concerned Uber will most definitely lose out to Didi Chuxing.


Leadership lessons from Sir Alec Ferguson & Sir Michael Moritz

Recently I had the great pleasure to spend time with and benefit from the refreshing no-frills business wisdom of Sir Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital.



With a net worth of $2.8 billion, Sir Michael, as an early investor in companies such as Apple, Google, YouTube, Airbnb, Dropbox and WhatsApp has a clear view of the essential ingredients for making a billion-dollar company.

Full of fascinating insights, Sir Michael’s new book “Leading” penned together with Sir Alex Ferguson is a must for anyone in the management or leadership role wanting to know what it takes to lead a team to unparalleled success over a sustained period of time.

Sepe Sehati

21/03/2016

The Secret Of Innovation

"The secret of innovation?
Learn how to drop pebbles of wisdom into the ocean of thought, creating ripples of imagination which will lead into waves of innovation."

~ Sepe Sehati


21/12/2014

Pomegranate: The Celestial Fruit?

Which of the following medical organizations would you say features the pomegranate in its coat of arms?

  • The British Medical Association
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists



The answer?  - Not just one, but all of them. Such is the reverence with which the world of medicine has and continues to embrace this crowned jewel of the fruit kingdom.

"we are just beginning to fully understand why pomegranates have been venerated for millennia for their wide ranging medicinal properties."

As if the endorsement of such esteemed medical institutions was not enough - way before the medicinal properties of the pomegranate were described it was also held sacred by many of the world’s religions including; Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity & Islam.

Centuries have passed and today using the most expensive & sophisticated tools and procedures we are just beginning to fully understand why pomegranates have been venerated for millennia for their wide ranging medicinal properties.

Protocols designed for demonstrating the effectiveness of man made pharmaceutical drugs (the cost of bringing a new drug to market has been estimated between $500million to $2billion1) are being used to provide an evidence base for the effectiveness of pomegranates (effectively freely available from the drug cabinet of nature) in treating various ailments.

In January 2000, the British Medical Association launched the Millennium Festival of Medicine. Using the theme “Celebrating the past, shaping the future” many of the events looked at changes in medical practice over the centuries. When it came to designing the logo for the Festival, the committee had a short list of some very strong contenders to choose from - namely; the human body, DNA, a heart beat and the pomegranate2.

How was the Millennium Festival of Medicine to be branded? What was more pivotal to the message of “celebrating the past” and “shaping the future” of medicine, healthcare and wellness?

You guessed correctly, in a further astonishing endorsement of the pomegranate, it was chosen as the logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine.

In Persian* mythology Isfandyiar having eaten a pomegranate becomes invincible. Arguably the medal for invincibility has to be awarded to the pomegranate itself. Anything able to stand the test of time in the way the humble pomegranate has deserves the respect and adoration with which civilizations and clinicians of the past and present embrace this celestial fruit.


Dr Sepe Sehati, Co-founder, ClickTell Consulting

References:
1.  Health Aff (Millwood) 2006, 25 (2): 420–8
2.  BMJ 2000, 3214:1153-4
*. Pomegranates originated in Persia (modern day Iran).