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Christchurch researcher wins top Medicines NZ award

Friday 16 February 2018 3:12pm

Celebrating success … (from left) MP and Chair of Health Select Committee Louisa Wall, Otago Research Assistant Jill Drake, winning researcher Professor Lisa Stamp, and Medicines New Zealand General Manager Dr Graeme Jarvis.

A Christchurch campus researcher has won New Zealand's top prize for using medicines to dramatically improve patients’ lives.

A study by rheumatologist and researcher Professor Lisa Stamp found it was safe and effective to increase doses of a crucial drug for managing gout. She provided clear evidence in an area where there was much confusion worldwide – and was last night awarded the Medicines New Zealand’s Value of Medicines Award.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, affecting tens of millions worldwide. In 2016, a group of international gout experts advised doctors not to use higher doses of the drug.

Professor Stamp’s robust clinical study found using higher doses of allopurinol was safe and could prevent ongoing attacks of the painful disease. It could also help stop the disease from progressing to a chronic state in many patients.

The Value of Medicines Award judges said Professor Stamp’s study would have “a high impact on patient care, especially benefiting Maori, Pacific and renal patients”.

The research would also have a big impact internationally, they said.

In Professor Stamps’ study, published in the prestigious Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal, one group of patients had increased doses of allopurinol, while another group did not. She found the two groups experienced similar rates of side-effects. Those on higher doses of allopurinol had better blood results for a crucial measure of the disease.

Professor Stamp says she will use the $20,000 prize money for further research on predicting patient’s response to allopurinol.