Tory MP: MS liberation treatment works
Last Updated: September 20, 2010 5:58pmOTTAWA – A Tory MP says it’s clear the controversial liberation treatment works on Multiple Sclerosis, contradicting the health minister’s decision earlier this month to gather more research before moving to a clinical trial.
“This procedure works,” Gord Brown, the Conservative MP for the Ottawa-area Leeds-Grenville riding, told a rally on Parliament Hill.
“We need to get all the premiers to approve this procedure.” In an interview later, Brown said he and some of his colleagues are going to continue to push within caucus to see the treatment approved.
“There are so many people who are receiving this treatment and it appears to be working. I don’t profess to be a medical doctor but we’re seeing people who could not walk, who could hardly move, who were in pain, find that once they have the treatment, that they didn’t have those problems any longer,” he said.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada will move to a clinical trial only after finishing seven studies, that started in July, looking at the link between blocked neck veins and MS. She said there’s no evidence yet to show the condition, known as CCSVI, causes MS.
But many MS sufferers who have had the treatment say they felt better almost right away and that’s all the proof some people need.
About 150 to 200 people gathered in front of the Peace Tower Monday with signs reading “go for the jugular” and “the treated are the evidence.” They want to see a clinical trial on the liberation treatment Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni pioneered. The procedure’s available outside Canada, but patients have to cover their travel and medical costs.
Beth Fraser, a Brockville, Ont., resident who travelled to Ottawa for the rally, said the liberation treatment is the first exciting treatment she’s heard of in the 18 years since she was diagnosed with MS, but she can’t afford to pay for it.
Sitting on a red scooter because she can no longer walk, Fraser said opening veins in the neck to ease a theoretical iron build-up in the brain is a simpler solution than something like working with stem cells, another area of research.
“Isn’t it dangerous to be sitting here with a disease where you’re deteriorating day by day, where you’re losing something day by day?” she said.
“I’m dying right now. So you know what? If I die on the (operating) table, so what?” Aglukkaq’s spokesman says they hope to have the results of the seven liberation treatment studies in months, not years.
“We are accelerating the development of a protocol for a pan-Canadian clinical trial,” Tim Vail wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency.
“Clinical trials will happen in Canada if and when the research supports it.” Liberal health critic Ujjal Dosanjh says the government’s waiting to react rather than being proactive.
“The scientific community, the medical community needs to know that this government is proactively concerned and will push (them). Then they don’t even need the push because they know the government is interested, they know the government will provide the resources.” Two provinces have so far moved to fund research, with Saskatchewan offering money for a clinical trial and Newfoundland and Labrador funding an observation study to look at whether patients’ conditions improve after they have the procedure outside Canada.
NDP health critic Megan Leslie agrees the issue needs federal leadership.
“When these seven reports come out, how long is this going to take? When is this going to happen? When is there going to be a decision?” she said.