Monday, June 22, 2009

Cor Blimey, Guv'nor!

CT Governor signs Lyme doctor protection Bill into law.

On Sunday amidst little fanfare, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed Bill HB6200 into law. Earlier this year the Bill received unanimous support from the Health Committee, which introduced it to the House. This was followed, with but minor revisions along the way, by the unanimous support of both Houses of the Connecticut General Assembly. It will now come into effect next month on July 1, 2009.

In what we hope will be a strong message to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), which continues in its heavy-handed attempt to shut down the conversation surrounding Chronic Lyme, this Bill clearly comes down on side of patients, their freedom to choose treatment, and doctors' freedom to exercise their clinical judgement.

To illustrate the IDSA's persistent attitude on this subject, check out this recent exchange printed in the British Journal of Medical Ethics (JME). A few months ago, a piece appeared titled "Attorney General forces Infectious Diseases Society of America to redo Lyme guidelines due to flawed development process", in which Johnson and Stricker outlined the reasons why the IDSA now finds itself in the position of having to review its 2006 Lyme disease guidelines with a completely new panel. In May 2009, IDSA President Anne Gershon submitted a reply to the JME in which she continues the Society's spin (you know the drill, but to paraphrase: Chronic Lyme doesn't exist, long-term antibiotic treatment is ineffective and dangerous). It is quite astonishing that she would put such statements in writing given that the guidelines review process is still in progress! Or are we to surmise from her comments that the outcome of that review has already been determined...? Well, the responses to President Gershon posted by the JME were not pretty (quite good reading, but not pretty).

This is the very stuff that got IDSA into trouble in the first place. The 2008 post-investigation press release from the Connecticut Attorney General's office states it clearly: The IDSA's 2000 and 2006 Lyme disease panels refused to accept or meaningfully consider information regarding the existence of chronic Lyme disease, once removing a panelist from the 2000 panel who dissented from the group's position on chronic Lyme disease to achieve "consensus". Let's hope this is not déjà vu all over again. Time will tell.

Mark this date on your calendar: July 30, 2009. That's the date of the IDSA's "open" public hearing in Washington, DC (you know... the open public hearing that the public cannot actually attend). The IDSA has promised to broadcast that hearing live via their website.

While some have attempted to misrepresent Connecticut's new Bill as an ill-advised attempt to "legislate medicine", it is quite the contrary -- it does not tell doctors what they have to do (unlike the IDSA guidelines), but rather protects their freedom to use their judgement without undue interference from regulatory bodies. Governor Rell had this to say about the Bill: “Doctors in Connecticut – the absolute epicenter of Lyme disease – can continue to do what is best for their patients suffering from this complex illness. I think most people know someone who has been infected. The bill also recognizes that Lyme disease patients must have the freedom to choose which remedy or regimen best meets their needs.”

Here is the press release from the Lyme Disease Association, and brief coverage from

Please let your elected representatives know about this exciting development in Connecticut, which now follows similar legislation in California and Rhode Island, in addition to the non-legislative approach implemented by New York. Canada's Lyme doctors continue to be harassed by our medical colleges. Many doctors will not treat Lyme patients for fear their licence could be in jeopardy. This needs to stop.

Three cheers for Guv'nor Rell!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tracking Lyme disease in Canada

CTV News: Avis Favaro covers the rise of this infectious disease.

"Lyme disease is moving its way into new parts of Canada but the government is not doing enough to track it or to teach doctors how to diagnose it, says a new report."

"The painful and debilitating affliction known as Lyme disease is spreading in Canada and with the summer outdoor season about to get into full swing, doctors are being asked to report even suspected cases to help health officials track it."

For the compete article visit online. A video report, which aired Monday June 8, 2009 on CTV National News can be viewed here.

A related piece by the CBC is titled Lyme disease spreading in Canada, researchers find. Here are links to a CBC video report in Real Media and QuickTime formats.

A report this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal titled The emergence of Lyme disease in Canada outlines the increase in Lyme endemic areas across our country. While there is really nothing new here from the perspective of the Lyme community (there have been Lyme patients suffering in every province of the country for years), it is nice to see some acknowledgement of the problem from medical officials.

Please ask your elected officials what will be done to teach our doctors how to diagnose this debilitating disease.