Thursday, September 8, 2011

5 News: Border hopping ends for Canadian Lyme disease patients

Came across this article recently, Border-hopping ends for Lyme disease sufferers.


"Instead of draining their savings to seek controversial lyme-disease treatment in the United States, suffering British Columbians can now find a similar treatment close to home, at the offices of select naturopathic physicians.

The new option is due to a one-year-old regulation change in the province that allows naturopaths to prescribe drugs, once they pass a test."

MORE at the link:

So, apparently one can get extended oral antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease, but not as extensive as patients in the US have received under some LLMDs.

I wonder how much this is going to change how Lyme disease is treated in Canada? I can only hope that more cases are being diagnosed and treated early.


  1. CO,

    To the best of my knowledge, British Columbia is the only province that currently allows naturopaths to prescribe antibiotics, although this may become a reality in Ontario (and no doubt other provinces) in coming years.

    Although I'm not one of them, some folks think that allowing naturopaths to prescribe antibiotics is a very bad idea:

    Canadians in other provinces now have the option of travelling to British Columbia to see naturopaths for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, however that may be more expensive than going to the U.S. for care depending on where a person lives. Most patients with cancer and heart disease aren't forced to seek help in other provinces or countries, but they are often reimbursed by their provincial healthcare systems when they do (due to lack of resources locally).

    There are still financial barriers for many Canadians as naturopathic doctors are generally not covered by provincial healthcare plans, and usually only to a very minor extent by private medical insurance. Most treatments recommended by naturopaths are not covered by any type of insurance at all. Many of us are waiting for the day that Canadians with Lyme disease will be able to get care within their communities. British Columbia is forging the way by allowing naturopaths to prescribe antibiotics, and there is a clinic that was expected to open this fall, but I haven't seen any updates recently. The focus of the clinic was to be Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It will be interesting to see who in the medical community is chosen to staff that clinic given the worldwide attention it is bound to receive.

  2. Rita,

    I agree the cost may be prohibitive for people to travel across Canada for treatment, when they can find a US doctor across the border who will treat them.

    I think that doctors in Canada need to be better trained to look for and diagnose Lyme disease when it strikes early. By now, Canadian media outlets have given it a lot more exposure in the past few years and the public is at least getting a greater appreciation for the problem. And if the government decided in 2010 that it is a nationally reportable disease, then the medical professionals in Canada need to be made aware of the disease, too.

    It can't continue to be business as usual. All the climate modeling data and research I've seen so far points to more Lyme disease across Canada. There is no doubt the disease's reach is spreading north.

    I look forward to seeing what this clinic plans to accomplish and what it can do to help patients. Do you know who is going to be staffing it? I imagine by doing a little research, there must be some job requisitions online one can dig up somewhere for this new clinic...

  3. CO, Rita, It seems to me counter productive to give naturopaths antibiotics.
    That is still leaving the doctors a way out of treating people. And less officially tested and reported patients. I wouldn't want a homeopath to insert a Picc line let alone have the pressure to buy tinctures and remedy's that are unproven. For one year I tried that and lost 10000$. There is a place for naturopaths in healing people but dealing with spirochetes is not one of them. If the powers that be are so afraid of overprescribing antibiotics and resistance then why make it widely available? It seems like a back door to avoid the issue all together. And dangerous.
    I have scoured the internet and found no mention of 'the clinic' opening any time soon. Two million dollars? A few staff and some expensive tests and that money will be gone within a year. Then what? How permanent is the clinic? As far as reportable goes I still can't get a Canadian doctor to diagnose me. Still am refused the Canadian Western Blot. Even though I have a + US result. How do you make any doctor 'report' a disease? There is no regulating enforcement. I've grown tired of the BS with doctors up here. It's truly sad how our system works.
    On a good note, I feel fantastic! Treatment is working and have mostly mild Bartonella symptoms left! Thanks to my bank account and not the provincial coverage I pay for. -Jess

  4. Jess,

    I don't view this as an optimal situation, either - I think every family physician should be trained to look for tickborne infections and understand how to diagnose, test for, and treat them. Whatever handful of naturopaths are doing this in British Columbia is not going to be useful for helping those in other provinces, anyway.

    This is what some would call a "better than nothing" situation or stop-gap solution. And those who are in support of more conservative antibiotic treatment - rightly or wrongly - would probably be less squeamish about naturopaths using extended oral antibiotics for 2-3 months than a PICC line (according to the article, they can only prescribe additional oral antibiotics).

    I don't have any evidence yet that homeopathy works, for what it's worth. I see naturopathy as being a separate profession which may or may not include homeopathy, but certainly relies on using herbs and supplements as supportive treatment for Lyme disease and other conditions. In some cases, naturopathy alone is probably fine for treatment - I would not consider a raging tickborne illness to be that case. Yeast infections and milder imbalances, sure, but not serious bacterial infections.

    I have been wanting to here more about the clinic and what their aims are and agree that two million dollars is nothing. It's a start. In order to do something meaningful they have to have sustained support and not just be an experimental clinic that is here for a limited time. This is a case where - as one of my readers has said - one wants to follow the money. Where is it going, and is it being put to effective use?

    I think you should be able to get a Canadian doctor to diagnose you. Why refuse giving you a Canadian WB if you have a positive US result? If anything, it's just more data. I think the system has to change because all research points to more future cases and people are sick from tickborne illness in Canada now. And the earlier doctors treat it, the less likely it is this issue of chronic Lyme disease comes up.

    I am glad you are feeling much better. It is a shame you have to shell out your own money to pay for treatment that should already have been given to you under your government healthcare plan. I don't think that's right, either.

  5. Typo: "here more about the clinic" should be "hear more about the clinic". Ah, Lyme brain.


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