Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark...

Ok, altogether now... exhale.

No, this isn't a commentary on the increasingly long list of climate change scandals hitting the world by storm since the recent gathering of politicos pretending to be scientists in Copenhagen. Although there is something disturbingly ironic (well, several things actually) about COP15 taking place in the land of vikings and fairy tales. Just remember, folks, "The Medieval Warm Period doth not a hockey stick make, my dearest Horatio." Well, it went something like that. Btw, for a less reverent COP15 postmortem (perhaps one of the more intelligent deconstructions), check out Dr. Seuss at Copenhagen.

And another deep inhalation.... and out.

Where were we? Oh yes. If you, like many others, have been holding your breath waiting for the much anticipated results of the IDSA's new-and-improved Lyme guidelines review panel, apparently we should stop. Last year, the IDSA website advised we could expect feedback from the committee around the end of the year (2009). Then the ETA was changed to shortly after the first of the year (2010). But here we are in February, and the silence is deafening.

Or at least it was.

It seems the new-and-improved panel is up to its same-old-same-old tricks. Correspondence from the Connecticut Attorney General on the 1st of February reveals the panel has failed to abide by the terms of the agreement reached following the antitrust investigation concluded in 2008. It appears the panel manipulated the voting procedures in order to favour the status quo of the existing guidelines. The Attorney General is not amused. A package, including a preamble from Lorraine Johnson's LymePolicyWonk blog, the Attorney General's letter (begins on page 3), an IDSA letter outlining their commitment to the agreed-upon review procedures (begins on page 7), and the new guidelines Action Plan (begins on page 9), can be accessed here.

The Attorney General's letter indicates that the panel has thus far denied any wrongdoing (now there's a familiar refrain!), claiming full compliance with the Action Plan. And so the showdown stands. This may well explain the lack of any public response from the panel to date.

Elsewhere in cyberspace, there is some interesting reading on the website of the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF). Much like the IPCC's one-sided "debate" on climate science, the ALDF has traditionally been an excellent place to visit for a very one-sided view of the world of Lyme disease (i.e. the narrow IDSA perspective). In fact, the gentleman who headed the 2006 IDSA Lyme guidelines panel is a member of the ALDF Board of Directors. In that context, it was somewhat disconcerting to read the following under the heading of "Treatment":

"Although treatment approaches for patients with late-stage LD have become a matter of considerable debate, many physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America recognize that, in some cases, several courses of either oral or IV (depending on the symptoms presented) antibiotic treatment may be indicated."

Since when does the IDSA recognize the benefit of several courses of antibiotics?? But before you break out the champagne, they then go on to say there is no scientific evidence to support speculation that long-term antibiotic therapy is beneficial, while specifically warning of adverse side effects from long-term IV therapy.

Amidst this confusing crosstalk, could this be a sign the IDSA is preparing to soften its position?

In the meantime, keep breathing.