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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Entries open for the 2014 Hippocrates Prize for poetry and medicine

Entries are open for the 2014 Hippocrates Prize Open, NHS and Young Poets categories - deadline 12MN GMT 31st January, 2014.

Submit entries online

With a 1st prize for the winning poem in each category of £5,000, the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its first 4 years, the Hippocrates Prize has attracted over 5000 entries from 55 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and Finland to Australasia. 

Awards for the 2014 Prize will be announced by the judges in May, 2014 at the Wellcome Collection in London at the end of the 5th International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine. 

Rules for the Hippocrates Prize
Awards are in an Open category, which anyone in the world may enter, and an NHS category, which is open to UK National Health Service employees, health students and those working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS students and staff. 

The judging panel for the 2014 Hippocrates Prize includes poet Philip Gross, a winner of
the TS Eliot Prize.

Co-organizers are medical professor Donald Singer and poet and translator Michael Hulse.  

The Hippocrates poetry and medicine initiative received the Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts in the 2011 Times Higher Education awards. This award aims to recognise the collaborative and interdisciplinary work that is taking place in universities to promote the arts. Entries were open to teams and all higher education institutions in the UK. 

Major support for the Hippocrates initiative has come from the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, with additional support from the Wellcome Trust, the Cardiovascular Research Trust, the National Association of Writers in Education, and the University Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study

Launch of Pocket Prescriber 2013

The 6th edition of the Pocket Prescriber I co-edit with psychiatrist Tim Nicholson has just been launched.

Our aim is to provide core information to junior doctors, nurse and pharmacist prescribers and medical students and other health professional students interested in drugs and prescribing.
As in previous editions, there is a listing of ~500 of the most commonly used medicines, informed by advice from  experts in the wide range of therapeutic disciplines reflecting current medical practice in assessing and treating common medical problems from infection to hypertension and alleviating pain.

We also include national guidelines aimed at improving safety and effectiveness in prescribing, and advice on management of medical emergencies, supported by guidelines from national and international professional societies, NICE guidelines and Formulary updates.

Over 110,000 copies of the Pocket Prescriber have entered national and international circulation since the first edition was published in 2004.

Since 2010, the Pocket Prescriber has been an annually updated source of prescribing advice.

The Pocket Prescriber is published as a convenient sized small book. The new 2013 edition will shortly also be published as an app for smartphones, laptops and desktop computers.

Suggestions for additional content are very welcome.

Hippocrates Society for Poetry and Medicine launched

The Hippocrates Society forPoetry and Medicine provides an international forum for people from anywhere in the world interested in the interface between poetry and medicine. To find out more about the Hippocrates Society, email the organizers.

Activities of interest to members include an annual international symposium on poetry and medicine, workshops, readings, and reduced cost of publications by the Hippocrates Press. Members also have discounted registration for the awards for the annual Hippocrates Prize which has 3 categories: an international Open category, an international Young Poets award, and a UK NHS category.

The annual membership subscription of the Hippocrates Society for Poetry and Medicine includes
- one free copy of the current year's Hippocrates Prize Anthology
- 20% discount on registration for Hippocrates initiative events, including the annual International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, Hippocrates Prize awards, workshops, readings and other events.
Pending events eligible for 20% discount on registration include 
- Hippocrates in Venice workshop 21st - 22nd September 2013

Subscription: 1st July 2013 - 30th June 2014
Standard membership - £40
Student - undergraduate or PhD - £30
Retired - £30

Hippocrates in Venice: workshop on poetry and medicine

Hippocrates in Venice
Weekend of Saturday 21st – Sunday 22nd September

Venue: 15th Century Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava
For more information: email the organizers.
15th Century Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava

Aims of the workshop
This workshop is designed as a scoping and networking event to take forward the work of the Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine.
The four annual International Symposia on Poetry and Medicine held since 2010 by the Hippocrates Initiative have shown that there is a substantial wish for an international umbrella association that would serve as a switchboard for the gathering, coordination and dissemination of information in the field, and to institute activities that further an understanding of relations between poetry and medicine.
The Venice workshop will principally be a two-day exchange of views aimed at establishing the priorities an umbrella association ought to have, identifying focal interests for potential research groups and working parties, and identifying interests for exploration in subsequent workshops.
There will be a small number of talks but the emphasis will be on discussion and consultation. Themes to be considered by speakers and during break-out sessions and round table discussions will include historical perspectives, epidemics of infection from the plague of Athens to syphilis, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS, and modern non-infectious epidemics, from obesity to heart disease, psychiatric disorders and cancer.
Other themes may be added arising from suggestions from workshops participants.
The Venice workshop offers a key opportunity to be part of the planning process and to help shape a significant new aid to workers and researchers in a growing field.
Palazzo Pesaro Papafava is a few minute’s walk from the Rialto Bridge and Ca’ d’Oro.
It is located on the Canale della Misericordia, opposite the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, with views towards the Grand Canal and the Lagoon.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) – does use by ‘healthy’ students matter?

In their report in the Telegraph, @Josiensor and Rosa Silverman discuss implications of a survey from Cambridge which notes that so-called 'smart' drugs continue to be used by students to try to improve their academic performance, with methylphenidate (Ritalin) a common choice.

Why should this be of public interest?

Methylphenidate has been in use since 1960 for treating ADHD, with effects mainly considered to be improvement in attention and concentration. It is used to treat a number of rare syndromes involving abnormalities in chemical transmission in the brain. The drug is also reported to be in widespread use by students in the UK, the US and elsewhere in the hope that it will improve studying, learning and exam performance.
1.    Does it work? Studies of possible effects on studying and learning are typically short-term and usually based on artificial tests – ie not usually test possible benefits of the drug what students may be trying to learn, or effects on the types of exams students may be sitting. Evidence compared to placebo of benefits or risks appears limited to studies lasting 4 weeks or less.
The evidence of benefits from methylphenidate in apparently healthy students is disappointing. For example, in a study in health young volunteers there was a reported benefit from the 1st dose for a spatial (3D) task and for planning, but not for attention or fluency. However even these effects were not sustained: with a second dose, spatial task performance was less good; ie there was little evidence of sustained benefit on repeat use of the drug and possible evidence that performance might be worse. And one of the side effects is insomnia – fatigue could also therefore be an indirect reason why performance might be impaired by the drug. There are also reports by users that with the drug, too much focus on details may make it difficult both to complete an assessment and to consider a broad enough range of issues to give a complete answer.
2.    Is use of methylphenidate any different from using caffeine? Because of the lack of convincing evidence of benefit from methylphenidate and concerns about serious risks, methylphenidate is not approved for use in the absence of specified medical conditions – e.g. ADHD. As for other drugs, the balance between risk and benefit must be considered by prescriber and user. In the event of any benefit for studying from the drug, others not using it are put at a disadvantage. In contrast caffeine is widely available for those who chose to use it. Too much caffeine, or sensitivity to caffeine can cause troublesome symptoms, including anxiety, tremor, sleep disturbance and palpitations. 
3.    Risks of methylphenidate Potential risks may be serious and include serious cardiac and psychiatric disorders. This has lead to important restrictions by regulatory authorities such as the FDA on use of the drug, even when the drug is medically indicated. 
Withdrawal symptoms of methylphenidate can include psychosis, depression and irritability.
Risks of the drug may be greater if there are medical problems, in particular if the user has a medical history of cardiovascular or psychiatric problems. Use without clinical advice may mean that important underlying conditions are not identified, for example high blood pressure, disorders of heart rhythm, and psychiatric risk; and potential important interactions with other drugs (including other stimulants) may not be considered. For example: 
-      alcohol can delay clearance of the drug from the body, increasing risk of adverse effects; 
-      concurrent use of stimulants such as caffeine would be expected to increase risk from methylphenidate of serious disorders of heart rhythm.

4.    What about access to the drug from internet pharmacies? For the above reasons, licensed pharmacies would not supply methylphenidate in the absence of specified medical conditions. Unlicensed internet pharmacies should be avoided. The quality of medicines is not reliable, with serious risk of being supplied poorly active or counterfeit or contaminated medicines. And medical contra-indications need to be identified and discussed to minimize the risk of preventable serious adverse effects.

5.    Fairness and coercion There are also a number of ethical concerns including:
a)    the need to protect students and others from using so-called ‘smart drugs’ in response to pressure to compete, both in exams and in professional life; 
b)    being fair to other students who do not have access to the drug, or do not wish to use what may be a medically harmful pharmacological aid to improving performance in examinations or to meeting challenges at work.

See also
June 2009: Opposing opinions in the British Medical Journal from John Harris and Anjan Chatterjee
September 2011: Methylphenidate and delayed puberty
July 2012: Methylphenidate for Parkinson's disease
November 2012: Commentary in the Guardian by William Leith: Ritalin before an exam fails the test of common sense 
June 2013: Cautionary report in from Canada on methylphenidate use and learning in  ADHD

Friday, 21 June 2013

Poet and doctor Dannie Abse awarded Honorary Fellowship by Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine

Dannie Abse has been made an Honorary Fellow by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, announced at the FPM's 3rd Annual Summer Event on 24th June, 2013.
FPM President Donald Singer with new Hon. FPM Fellow Dannie Abse
His book of poetry, Running Late received the Roland Mathais Prize in 2007. The Presence was the winner of the prestigious Wales Book of the Year award for 2008. In 2009 Abse brought out a volume of collected poetry. In the same year, he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Abse was a judge for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

He was awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to poetry and literature. 
See more 
Dannie Abse at the FPM for the 2010 Hippocrates Prize judging

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Key dates for Hippocrates Initiative events: Venice, London and W Midlands

Below are key dates for forthcoming Hippocrates Initiative events
See  links below or email for further information.

West Midlands
Saturday 15th June – 10-11am at the University of Warwick Arts Centre, CV4 7AL
Readings by Wendy French, Jane Kirwan and Michael Henry

Monday 24th June – 6pm – 8.30pm
Rooms of the Medical Society of London
11, Chandos Street, London W1G 9DR - 5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus
Reading by Dannie Abse
Dannie Abse at 2010 Hippocrates Judging ©Hippocrates Prize

Readings by winning and commended poets from the 2013 Hippocrates prize
Readings from Born in the NHS by Wendy French
Ticket £10 including coffee on arrival and closing wine reception

Weekend of Saturday 21st – Sunday 22nd September
Venue: 15th Century Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Dannie Abse to read at Hippocrates Prize FPM Annual Summer event

The  Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine has been a major supporter of the Hippocrates Prize since it was founded. The FPM's 3rd Annual Summer Evening on Monday 24th June will be devoted to the 2013 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Highlights include a reading by poet and doctor Dannie Abse, member of the judging panel for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize.

Dannie Abse at 2010 Hippocrates Judging ©Hippocrates Prize
Rooms of the Medical Society of London
11, Chandos Street, London W1G 9DR - 5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus

The annual Hippocrates awards are in an Open category (1st Prize £5000), which anyone in the world may enter, and an NHS category (1st Prize £5000) which is open to UK National Health Service employees, health students and those working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS students and staff; and a Young Poets Award of £500.

The Hippocrates Initiative began in 2009 as the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine for an unpublished poem on a medical subject. The Hippocrates Initiative now also includes annual international symposia at which the Hippocrates awards are presented, an international research forum for poetry and medicine and The Hippocrates Press. Since its launch in 2009, the annual Hippocrates Prize has attracted thousands of entries from 55 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and from Finland to Australasia. With a purse of £15,000, the Hippocrates Prize is one of the most valuable poetry prizes in the world.

Registration costs £10, including coffee and a wine reception after the readings.

See link to register and for programme

Friday, 7 June 2013

Poetry and Medicine at the University of Warwick Book Festival

The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine will feature at the University of Warwick Book
Festival at Warwick Arts Centre on the University Campus at 10am on Saturday 15th June 2013.

Download the programme

Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University said "The University of Warwick has a strong tradition in writing and literary events, and a number of Warwick’s excellent literary initiatives are represented at the Festival, including the Warwick Prize for Writing, the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and The Warwick Review".

This session will be led by founders of the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine Michael Hulse and Donald Singer, and feature award-winning poets Wendy French, Jane Kirwan and Michael Henry presenting their work.

Support for the Hippocrates Initiative comes from the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, the Cardiovascular Research Trust, The National Association of Writers in Education and the Institute of Advanceed Study at the University of Warwick.


See more

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

New EU black triangle scheme for medicinal products

There are several key stages in use of medicines and vaccines in clinical practice when reporting on clinical experience of side effects and suspected adverse effects is particularly important.

In addition to a duty to report any serious adverse effect, times to be particularly vigilant include when a medicine has just been launched; when indications for use are changed – ie new patient groups are exposed to the medicine; special patient populations for whom experience of a medicine may be limited – e.g. children; new combinations with the treatment, with which unexpected drug interactions may occur. 
The European Medicines Agency [EMA] notes these additional categories: “ it contains a new active substance authorised in the EU after 1 January 2011; it is a biological medicine, such as a vaccine or a medicine derived from plasma (blood), for which there is limited post-marketing experience; it has been given a conditional approval (where the company that markets the medicine must provide more data about it) or approved under exceptional circumstances (where there are specific reasons why the company cannot provide a comprehensive set of data); the company that markets the medicine is required to carry out additional studies, for instance, to provide more data on long-term use of the medicine or on a rare side effect seen during clinical trials.”

A Black Triangle logo has been used in the UK for many years “to signify medicines that are subject to intensive monitoring" [MHRA]. This inverted Black Triangle logo will now be used in all EU Member States, with a list of 'Black Triangle' medicines and vaccines agreed Europe-wide, the first version released in April 2013. The Black Triangle will start appearing in the package leaflets of medicines concerned from autumn 2013.
See more on the EMA website on the new European Union wide black triangle scheme for medicinal products and vaccines,
 indicating that they should be subject to additional monitoring and reporting by health professionals and patients.