(by Ed Moloney, Sunday Tribune)
Arthritis victims can enjoy as much as a 50% annual reduction in pain as a result of regularly taking the Irish-based Collins Arthritis Treatment, according to an independent statistical study prepared for last week’s international GP’s conference, the World Organisation of National Colleges and Academies (WONCA) held in Dublin.
The study, the first attempt at a systemic examination of a treatment which has been available in Ireland for nearly forty years, shows that people suffering from osteo-arthritis who take the treatment on a monthly basis have on average a 54% reduction in pain in the first year. Osteo-arthritis is the most common form of the disease with an estimated 200,000 victims in Ireland.
For victims of rheumatoid arthritis, the most crippling variety of the disease, the average annual improvement is less, but at 30% in the first year still represents a significant reduction in pain. Rheumatoid arthritis affects women up to four times as much as men and usually strikes in early middle age.
The study, which was based on data collected from 16 GP’s administering the treatment in Ireland over a twelve month period, was conducted by Dr Marie Reilly, the Director of the Consulting Centre at the Department of Statistics, UCD.
“Although this was an observational study rather than experimental the results were very encouraging”, she said last week. “I think it gives a huge impetus to the demand for a clinical trial”. She added that a longer study would be necessary to determine whether the annual improvement rates continued or levelled off.
The study was based on the experiences of 460 patients between May 1997 and May 1998 and used recognised subjective methods of pain measurement and evaluation by both patients and physicians. Between them, the patients made 1,567 visits for treatment, and the study shows that their doctors estimated there had been improvements in 79.1% of the visits for osteo-arthritis patients and 64.1% for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis victims inflammatory changes in the blood were also measured and these appeared to show an average 25% annual reduction in the first year of treatment.
The Collins Treatment was developed by a Lucan-based doctor, Patrick Collins in the 1950’s and was carried on by his three sons, all doctors, after his death. The surviving son Maurice Collins has for the last few years been attempting to get clinical trials for the treatment. The former Tánaiste Dick Spring has given his support to the calls.
The treatment is based on the local anaesthetic drug, Procaine which was once widely used by dentists. The Procaine is diluted and a small amount is smeared on the skin, the size of the dose being determined by the variety of arthritis.
How the treatment works remains a medical mystery but its popularity has spread; some 35 GP’s in Ireland and Britain now administer the treatment. A major advantage of the treatment over conventional medicine is that it has no known side effects and apparently is effective for the entire family of arthritis diseases.
In a story that comes out of Hidden Ireland thousands of people have taken the treatment over the years but it never, until recently, had any public profile. One major reason for this was the unremitting hostility of the rheumatolgy establishment although there is evidence that this may now be softening.