It was a pleasure to see so many BTA members at the recent successful Society for Endocrinology BES Conference in Brighton. The excellent programme was organised by Simon Pearce as Chair of the POC and included many thyroid sessions. Highlights included:
The Early Career Endocrinologists Prize Lecture (Clinical) on the interpretation of gestational thyroid function measurements was awarded to Tim Korevaar (Rotterdam). The BTA award for a young investigator (
The Executive Committee held a very successful dinner which was a welcome opportunity to thank all those who have contributed so much to British thyroidology in 2016.
The British Thyroid Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016 and the BTA Executive would like to formally congratulate Janis Hickey and her team in so successfully establishing our thyroid patient support group. I was reminded by Mike Tunbridge that the modest profits from the 1991 Newcastle meeting celebrating the centenary anniversary of Murray’s publication (shortly after I had arrived as a Registrar) were given to the newly established British Thyroid Foundation (BTF) to help get the organisation off the ground financially. We aim to continue our successful relationship and encourage the BTF to flourish in helping and supporting patients and their relatives to keep abreast of all the new developments in thyroid disease.
Our excellent relationship with the BTF was demonstrated recently when the BTA Executive Committee was made aware by the BTF that many patients have been informed of a lack of L-T3 availability on the basis of cost. A Times newspaper investigation published in June brought this problem to attention.
Subsequently, Jeremy Hunt has ordered a review of the NHS pricing system by the competition watchdog, Competition and Markets Authority. The current increase in price of L-T3 (from 9p to £9.22 per 20 mcg tablet) has arisen because generic products in the NHS are not price controlled which was designed to encourage competitive pricing in order to keep prices down. However, this can have the opposite effect; for example, where there is a limited number of suppliers for a product such suppliers can choose to increase prices unilaterally. Several years ago, L-T3 became generic with a single supplier, Goldshield, which became AMCo, and now Concordia. Since then there has been a gradual price increase, particularly in the last three years. The increase in prices appears to have occurred specifically in the UK relative to other European countries. The BTA and BTF have agreed a statement that we do not support the practice of sudden withdrawal of L-T3 therapy and provided information sheets to patients and GPs.
BTA members will be receiving a copy of the relevant statements as well as more specific detail on how to handle this difficult issue with their local CCGs and fund holders. The clinical advice will be as agreed in the recent published BTA statement on the management of hypothyroidism. Petros Perros and Carla Moran (Thyroid Network) are proposing a survey of BTA and Thyronet members to assess the clinical experiences with regards to the recent price increases in L-T3), how this has affected their practice, how they have handled, it and what their expectations are from professional organisations such as the BTA.
This year’s BTF annual research award of up to £20,000 has been funded by a legacy which should be used specifically for research to improve understanding of hypothyroidism. Applications for this year’s award (deadline 31st January 2017) are therefore invited specifically for research into assay and assessment of thyroid function with particular application to the diagnosis and management of hypothyroidism. If applicants are uncertain of the suitability of their proposal, they may submit a 150-word overview of their proposal for informal feedback from the BTF prior to submission of a full application, by contacting email@example.com.
The Executive Committee has been busy organising the Training programme on Monday afternoon May 15th and the 2017 Annual Meeting programme on Tuesday May 16th which are about to be finalised. (click here to find out more) The AGM will be scheduled within the annual meeting and nominations are invited from the membership for President and Assistant Secretary. Eight travel grants of £300 have been allocated for Trainees to attend the annual meeting in London if they have an abstract successfully accepted with the abstract submission deadline 1st March 2017. In addition, all original abstracts from the BTA meeting will be published in the Journal of Thyroid Research. I would encourage as many Trainees as possible to attend both days. RSR Ltd generously sponsor the George Murray Lecture to be given by Ian Hay (a surprise dinner guest at Brighton) who will also contribute to the Training afternoon. The Annual Meeting programme will also include symposia on molecular aspects of thyroid disorders and thyroid and pregnancy.
I am looking forward to the imminent launch of the new website imminently and look forward to your feedback. I wish to express my thanks to all the Executive Committee members for their hard work throughout the past year especially Buchi for all his hard work as our Secretary.
Finally, as we approach the New Year Eve’s celebrations, I can bring you recent data published online in “Thyroid” from Lazarus, Smyth and colleagues which demonstrated that iodine concentrations in malt whisky are not a significant nutritional source of the element. Even ‘a double’ whisky (70 ml in the UK and not a Lazarus measure) would only provide 3μg iodine (around 3% of the recommended daily intake). Unfortunately, iodine is not present in sufficient concentration to influence iodine nutrition and its more widespread use cannot be justified on public health grounds to solve the UK iodine problem.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all BTA members a healthy, successful and prosperous 2017.
Mark Vanderpump, President, BTA
As the year draws to an end I join Mark in wishing you all a relaxed peaceful season and a prosperous 2017. I thank all those who have supported the BTA in one form or another in 2016 and use this opportunity to remind you all to mark the dates, 15 and 16 May, 2017, for the next meeting and training day. Next year’s meeting promises an exciting mix of clinical and basic science talks on a variety of topics including the diagnosis and management of thyroid cancer, molecular aspects of thyroid disorders and thyroid disease in pregnancy. Please encourage your colleagues and trainees to submit abstracts and to take advantage of our travel awards for high scoring abstracts.
I hope to see you in London in May.
Onyebuchi Okosieme, BTA Secretary
Watch out for our new website which goes live in January 2017. More details of our meetings, activities, and recent statements will now be available online. The website includes a blog which gives members the opportunity to publish posts under their names on developments in the field of thyroidology. If you are interested in contributing please contact the website designer via firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you outline details regarding submissions.