LYME DISEASE: THE HEALTHCARE CRISIS AND THE RESTRAINT OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE

LYME DISEASE is the fastest-growing infectious disease in America. The Center for Disease Control reported about 35,000 new cases in 2008, but estimates that the actual number of cases to be 6-12 times higher. Ticks carry the disease, which is a spirochetal bacteria like syphilis. Early signs of Lyme include fever, headache, fatigue, and an “erythema migrans” (EM) rash. Late-stage Lyme can cause “severe permanent physical complications” involving the joint, heart, eye, and nervous systems.

BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES follow guidelines created by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), which rejects doctors’ ability to use clinical diagnosis methods, and gives only a short 28-day treatment of antibiotics. (See: CT ATTORNEY GENERAL’S Announcement: http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?a=2795&q=414284 ). As a result, doctors in hospitals are simply presented with the IDSA guidelines by the insurance providers, and patients often find that their insurance companies only provide short term treatment.

YET, MANY DOCTORS WHO SPECIALIZE IN LYME CARE prefer to include clinic diagnostic methods and treat their patients longer, until they get better. Many of them belong to the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (www.ilads.org), which made its own guidelines to better recognize and provide treatment for Lyme disease.

IN 2008, CONNECTICUT’S ATTORNEY GENERAL investigated how the IDSA made its guidelines, and discovered problems like conflicts of interest with insurance companies and failure to consider a range of research. The Attorney General found grounds for an Anti-trust action. The IDSA settled by agreeing to make an independent panel to review its guidelines. (CT AG’S Announcement: http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?a=2795&q=414284 ).

IN RESPONSE TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S FINDINGS, THE IDSA MADE A REVIEW PANEL that was chaired by a former IDSA president, and excluded any doctors who had treated long term Lyme. In 2010, the IDSA REVIEW PANEL decided unanimously that the IDSA guidelines needed no change.  But in a complete contradiction, the same panel’s report was evenly divided about whether the IDSA guidelines’ diagnostic criteria needed to be changed. The panel had other problems, like minimal discussion of opposing points of view. (Final Panel Report:
http://www.idsociety.org/Content.aspx?id=16520.).

Consequently, the Connecticut Attorney General should enforce his settlement agreement with the IDSA, and continue to seek a review of the IDSA guidelines that actually is independent.

In the article “Connecticut’s Antitrust Action against the IDSA’s Lyme Guidelines”, attorney Hal Smith reviews: the IDSA’s restrictive diagnosis and treatment guidelines, the Attorney General’s investigation into the guidelines, and the problems with the IDSA’s supposedly “independent” review panel that re-approved them.

The article is available on:

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1_Ln6NbVI50nGdJ2rt4jFQf4ITPWLmInXEaZxFtxUmxU

and

http://groups.google.com/group/coma-ct/browse_thread/thread/2324bd45d52ac8f7/273aa9fe920dce12?hl=en&lnk=gst&q=lyme#273aa9fe920dce12

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