A Dunedin man believed to be the first New Zealander to
undergo innovative stroke therapy in the United States may have
become a trailblazer.
Brenda Griffin said her phone and social media page had been
''red hot'' since the Otago Daily Times this month
featured the treatment her husband Dave received in Los
The treatment involves injecting etanercept, a drug usually
used for arthritis, in the base of the neck, and turning the
patient upside down for 10 minutes.
Mr Griffin's speech, walking, fatigue, pain levels and
reading have improved.
An Auckland couple recently flew to Dunedin to spend the day
with the Griffins to discuss the treatment, which they hoped
might improve the husband's recovery from stroke.
Their GP and neurologist had advised against it, telling them
to save their money.
However, the couple are going through the process of
attending the LA clinic, which involves a pre-approval
''They met us and realised we are not involved in any big
scam - just genuine people that gave it a go and it helped,
[and] they were a lot more comfortable.''
More recently, Mrs Griffin had also liaised with a couple
from near Christchurch who are in Los Angeles for the
Mrs Griffin referred to a recent English pilot study that
demonstrated etanercept's effectiveness against Alzheimer's
disease, which showed the drug's potential went beyond
The etanercept treatment could potentially be given to stroke
patients in every GP practice, she said.
''It doesn't cure, but it just helps.''
Mrs Griffin said the treatment developer, Dr Edward Tobinick,
was treating patients from all over the world.
Brain Health Research Centre deputy director Associate Prof
John Reynolds was sceptical when contacted yesterday.
Etanercept might offer promise for stroke studies, but as yet
it was not backed by ''solid studies''.
Treatments not backed by clinical studies were potentially
harmful, he believed.
''I know it's the stock answer. I know it's a frustrating
answer, but we've got to be a little careful because you have
to have the evidence ...''