Returning guest Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, Chairman, and CEO of The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society discusses the newly formed International Advisory Council (IAC) – a group of eight internationally and domestically acclaimed medical professionals who have shown an interest and expertise in gout care. IAC members collaborate on new ideas and raise awareness of gouty arthritis – with the goal of improving the overall quality of care and minimizing the burden of gout through educational resources.
Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards is a specialist in internal medicine and rheumatology, and serves as professor of medicine in the Division of Clinical Immunology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He is also program director of the Medicine Residency Training Program and vice chairman for the Department of Medicine at the University. In addition, he is the chairman and chief executive officer for the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society.
Neal Howard: Welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us here on the program. Our guest today is returning guest Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, he’s chairman and CEO of the Gout and Uric Acid Education Society and he’s returning to talk with us about a newly formed international advisory council, a group of eight internationally and domestically acclaimed medical professionals who’ve shown an interest in expertise in gout care. Welcome back to the program Doctor.
Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards: Thank you Neal, it’s good to be back with you.
Neal: Well I’m for our listeners who may not be familiar with you when you were here before, give our listeners a little bit of background about yourself and talk about what gout is and how uric acid plays into gout.
Dr Edwards: Certainly. I’m a Rheumatologist at the University of Florida and gout is one of the more common forms of arthritis. It’s certainly the most common inflammatory arthritis and it’s an extremely painful condition. It usually affects men in their 40s and 50s, women get a little reprieve and don’t have the onset until usually a decade or so after menopause so usually in their late 50s or 60s. It’s caused by an elevation of uric acid in the blood and this is primarily a genetic disorder. A lot of mythology is out there about eating too much red meat or shellfish or drinking too much beer. Certainly those substances can trigger gout attacks but the fact that a patient has elevated uric acid is primarily caused by an inheritance problem with the kidneys not being able to handle uric acid in the normal way.
Neal: Is uric acid beneficial when not in excess to cause gout?
Dr Edwards: There’s controversy about that. Certainly when it’s elevated and when we say elevated, we mean a level above 7 milligrams per deciliter. When it’s elevated, it can cause a lot of problems in addition to gout. Certainly gout is the best-known of those but it also has negative effects on heart health, kidney health, maybe related to high blood pressure and stroke so lowering uric acid is a good thing. Now there is a question out in the research community about if you drop the uric acid too low for a prolonged period of time, is that a bad thing? The answer isn’t known for that so usually we’re pretty happy to see uric acid levels decline.
Neal: There’s a new Advisory Council that’s been formed. Talk about this Advisory Council, what is its goal and ultimate purpose?
Dr Edwards: Certainly. We got The Gout and Uric Acid Education Society, we just recently shortened that legally to The Gout Education Society but it’s been in existence now for thirteen years and when we established it was with the idea of educating patients and their families about the disease because there is a lot of misinformation out there even on the internet and so we’ve had a non-pharmaceutical branded website that’s been put together by our board of directors. There’s seven members on the board that have been in place for the past 13 years and they are also, including myself considered, international experts in the field of gout and its treatment. What we realized is that we needed to bring more people in from different parts of the world that also had a need for education about gout and some new thoughts about how to best approach patients and practitioners with this information that we’ve had on our website, again for over a decade, and how to improve it so that it is more impactful. We do have this new International Advisory Council, not all the members of that eight member Council are international. Several of them are from the United States but they had specific interest in the educational aspects and all of these new members are considered experts in the world of gout.
Neal: Do you think that this new Advisory Council is going to push further research, be able to procure more funding for deeper research into gout and uric acid? And also at the same time, be able to further raise awareness of gout internationally?
Dr Edwards: I think that the reason for establishing the International Advisory Council was to certainly make gout education more visible across not just our country but internationally and they are going to feed off of the resources that we’ve developed. Most all of the members of both the Board of Directors and the International Advisory Council are established investigators, doing epidemiologic work or genetic work or basic science studies in the realm of uric acid and gout. We’re not relying on them to bring in more funding support for this project.
Neal: Do you or have you noticed that there are major differences in the approach to gout care and research here in the United States as opposed to other parts of the world, say France, New Zealand and some of the other places where some of the members hail from?
Dr Edwards: Not terribly big differences. The guidelines for instance for a gout treatment from the American College of Rheumatology are very much in line with the gout treatment guidelines that are recommended by EULAR which is the European equivalent of the American College. The folks from New Zealand and there are two of them on the new advisory panel and that’s partially because gout is such a prominent disease in New Zealand. It has to do with the genetics again of the native population that inhabits New Zealand. It’s very common, upwards of 40 percent of adult males have gout so this is exceedingly common and a very bad form of gout. But they generally follow the same treatment guidelines, the difference international is that some medications that are available in the United States are not available elsewhere and the doses of some medications that are approved by the FDA in the United States here are not as restrictive in some of these other countries so they can use higher doses of several of the drugs that are now approved.
Neal: Are all of the members on the Advisory Council physicians or researchers? Are there any patient advocates that are a part of this Advisory Council or in contact or in association with this council on behalf of the patients and clients?
Dr Edwards: Yeah, their patients are not part of the formal International Advisory Council. We do have patients that are frequenters to our website that we rely on and poll for their opinions on various aspects of our educational activities as well as their understanding of what the misconceptions are about gout in the community and things that they’ve heard. So we do draw on the people that frequent our website for that type of information.
Neal: Where can we go and get some more information about this newly formed Advisory Council and about gout and uric acid in general and of course about The Gout Education Society?
Dr Edwards: Yeah, you can certainly go onto our website at gouteducation.org and the new membership is on the AIC as listed there along with pictures of them and why they’re considered prominent people in this field. Also, that’s true of the Board of Directors and all of our information. The website is divided into the side that’s devoted to patient and family education and then there’s also a health professional side of the network that has more references to scientific articles and the tone is just a little bit different for better understanding.
Neal: Well it’s been a pleasure as always Doctor, thank you for coming back.
Dr Edwards: Thank you Neal, it’s been a pleasure.
Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and visit our Affiliate Page on our platform at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au