Medical panel keeps Lyme guidelines “as is”

Photo: Gary Wormser, MD, lead author of the IDSA guidelines, attributes many chronic Lyme symptoms to “the aches and pains of daily living.”

After reviewing 3,000 pages of evidence challenging advice in its 2006 Lyme disease medical guidelines, eight Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) panelists voted to keep the 45-page document “as is.”

Dr. Robert Bransfield, the president of a group of community-based Lyme specialist physicians (ILADS) issued this statement in response:

“It’s a sad day for the health care system and for everyone who suffers from the Lyme disease epidemic. The IDSA’s flawed positions means patients will continue to suffer with incorrect diagnosis and improper treatment.”

"By and large, the people on the IDSA panel who made this decision are ivory tower researchers," says Bransfield. "They're not the doctors on the front lines looking into the eyes and faces of these very sick patients, performing exams and then assuming long term responsibility for dealing with patients suffering from chronic Lyme.”

Bransfield and ILADS point to a number of discrepancies and other concerns about the vote, including:

---68 out of 69 of the original 2006 recommendations under review were OK'd with unanimous votes. "How can there be such a total consensus with any scientific issue?" asked Bransfield. "It's highly suspect and beyond comprehension."

---If Lyme cannot be chronic, then why did the guideline's authors acquire 200 Lyme disease patents and receive $76 million in Federal funds to study it?

---The original guidelines are not only controversial, but written back in 2006, are considered old and out of date.

---The CDC has also advised for many years that the disease should be diagnosed on clinical grounds and not by unreliable laboratory tests. The Lyme disease tests are inaccurate 50% of the time.

---The IDSA's decision reinforces that doctors have little control when it comes to treating diseases such as Lyme. Researchers and insurance companies remain in the driver's seat of diagnosis and treatment.

In May 2008, the IDSA agreed to re-evaluate its Lyme disease guidelines as part of a settlement agreement for an antitrust investigation by the Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal. The crew of the documentary, UNDER OUR SKIN, covered this investigation as it unfolded, and revealed some of the evidence alluded to in Blumenthal’s investigation, including the significant conflicts of interest among the original IDSA guidelines panelists, suppression of scientific evidence by panelists, and exclusion of panel members with opposing viewpoints.

During a telephone press conference on the IDSA’s announcement of the ruling, IDSA president Richard Whitley, MD, said he thought Blumenthal had been "misguided by the [Lyme] activists” and that the antitrust suit against IDSA wasn’t “justified or warranted."

- To read the IDSA report, click here.

- To read the ILADS response, click here.

- To download a detailed history of the IDSA investigation, click here.

- To read the Attorney General’s release on the investigation, click here.

- To read UNDER OUR SKIN's Jordan Fisher-Smith's letter to the IDSA and learn what you can do, click here.