Stricker Strikes Out At Stupid Lyme Studies
One of the many knowledgeable MDs trying to make the world a little better for their current patients and those out there still struggling to get properly diagnosed and treated.
Letters by Raphael Stricker, MD, as published on various Lyme lists, compiled by Melissa Kaplan.
Mary Duenwald (Science Times, May 20) tells us that "many of the people in Lyme disease country and their doctors have decided that the illness is not going to alarm them so much anymore". This sophistic statement is based on a recent study showing that early Lyme disease can be "cured" by a 10-day course of antibiotics in "more than 85%" of cases.
What Ms. Duenwald fails to tell us is that the study in question had a 45% dropout rate (81 of 180 patients failed to complete the trial). By any rational standard, this enormous dropout rate invalidates the study results, and the biggest mystery is how the trial ever got published. Ms. Duenwald also mentions a 2001 Lyme disease trial that failed to show any benefit of "longterm" antibiotic therapy. The most ironic of many flaws in that study was the absence of any antibiotic regimen that could reasonably be considered "longterm" therapy (see www.ilads.org). Unfortunately, based on these studies we are now seeing an orgy of self-congratulation among healthcare providers and insurance companies who no longer need to worry about, or pay for, adequate treatment of Lyme disease. Sadly, the patients who suffer the serious consequences of inadequately treated Lyme disease do not share this rosy outlook. They continue to suffer.
Before patients and doctors can "decide" not to be alarmed by a potentially devastating illness like Lyme disease, they better be damn sure that their nonchalance is based on valid data. As long as flawed Lyme disease studies are embraced by the medical establishment and touted by the press, we will continue to see a growing parade of patients with inadequately treated illness, pleading for help from a smug society that has turned a deaf ear on Lyme disease sufferers.
Raphael Stricker, MD
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