Tory senators do something right for MS.

If this blog format allowed for a bigger headline, it would be bigger. Just because the writer of this blog is a known liberal does not mean he does not recognize people doing the right thing. And the Liberal senators who complained about the killing of Senate Bill S-204 should clam up. They do not know what they are talking about.

The politicizing of the Zamboni treatment for multiple sclerosis for the past three years has been a disgrace for both sides of the House and Senate. It is the increasing evidence that chronic cerebral venous insufficiency (CCVSI) has nothing to do with the incidence of MS is what convinced the Tory Senators to kill the bill. The Liberal senators were just not paying attention.

It all started with an over-blown CTV television report of discovery of a possible cure for MS being tried in Buffalo, New York. It was based on treatment developed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni of Ferrara, Italy. Dr. Zamboni, a vascular surgeon, had postulated that it was the impaired drainage of blood from the brain because of restricted flow through the neck veins that caused a build-up of iron in the patient’s brain. He reasoned that if he could improve blood flow from the brain, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis might be relieved.

The practice of CTV news to promote its other programs by running clips from them as news helped sensationalize the story. When it then ran on CTV’s W5 program, it had large numbers of MS patients watching to see this miracle they were being promised. There was soon a major controversy over Zamboni’s supposed cure and the MS Society of Canada was accused of suppressing the treatment.

Members of Parliament such as Barrie MP Patrick Brown used the Zamboni theory unmercifully to promote themselves. They promoted the people trying to get the Zamboni treatment immediately—and themselves, as people working to help the sick.

What they really did was cause fewer funds to go to the MS Society to pay for its legitimate research while forcing the society to redirect funds to properly test the Zamboni theories.

People heard little from these CCVSI advocates of those who died or were in worse shape after getting stents put in their veins by off-shore “clinics.” This bill working its way through the Senate was to authorize a national strategy to deal with the therapy and for a national registry of MS patients.

But, thankfully, it was stopped in the Senate. By this time, the overwhelming conclusion of the official studies is that people with MS have the same veins in their necks as people without MS. Dr. Zamboni does not have the answer. The search for the cure for multiple sclerosis continues.

(Note:  The author of this article is a past president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and served on the management committee and as chair of public education for the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies.)


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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