Friday, April 23, 2010

Lyme Disease Press Release

Monte Skall, 703-821-8833

IDSA panel sticks to its 2006 treatment guidelines despite scientific evidence

Washington, D.C. April 23, 2010 ? Monte Skall, Executive Director of the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association said, “It is a sad day for all patients when medical experts turn their backs on medical research when making treatment recommendations.” Skall refers to the fact that the panel of experts that reviewed the guidelines agreed that all of the 69 original recommendations were medically and scientifically justified while ignoring the large body of research that has found prolonged antibiotic therapy to be effective.

Carol J. Baker, MD, chair of the IDSA's Lyme Disease Review Panel, said, “The final report includes more than 1,000 citations.” Nonetheless, the review panel could not point to a single study that supported their recommendation that antibiotic therapy should be withheld from patients who continue to be sick.

Medical societies develop treatment guidelines for a long list of diseases. Insurance companies look to restrictive treatment guidelines to determine which treatments are covered. Treatment that falls outside the guidelines is deemed “experimental” and typically not covered. The I DSA Lyme Disease Review Panel was created as part of a settlement with the Connecticut Attorney General. An investigation found serious flaws in the IDSA’s process for writing its treatment guidelines, including various undisclosed conflicts of interest. The controversial treatment guidelines recommend against re-treatment of Lyme patients who fail the recommended treatment, despite a lack of research supporting their claim that additional treatment is ineffective. Two studies (Fallon et al. 2008 Krupp et al. 2003) found that Lyme patients benefited from additional treatment.

NatCapLyme is disappointed with the result of the IDSA's review of its treatment guidelines. Significant evidence, clinical experience, and expert opinion were presented to the specially appointed IDSA panel to demonstrate that carefully administered long-term antibiotic treatment was beneficial in providing significant relief to many victims of tick-borne disease. The panel erred in turning its back on these impressive submissions in favor of continued reliance on studies and conclusions that have been soundly criticized for their own shortcomings and biases.

There is no justification for relying on flawed science for continuing its recommended guidelines and arming insurance companies to deny health benefits to insured Lyme victims. If the panel was not prepared to recognize the studies that support longer courses of antibiotic treatment for chronic sufferers, it should have included a call for continued scientific study of this topic among its suggestions. It is time for the IDSA doctors to stop defending their reputations and get back to the work of helping sick people to get well.

Skall said, “It is our hope that treating clinicians will continue to exercise good judgment and treat patients based on their experience of what works for them in the clinical environment. Rote obedience to a treatment guideline based on flawed studies is not good medicine.”

The National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association will issue further statements after it has had an opportunity to study the IDSA report in greater detail.

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