WINNIPEG, CANADA, October 19, 2010. 10AM ET
A respected MS neurologist, researcher and educator has slammed the controversial CCSVI hypothesis, also known as the “Zamboni Liberation Therapy”. Dr. Randall Schapiro, Board member of the National MS Society in the US spoke to an MS Society sponsored conference of members and healthcare professionals on Monday in Winnipeg: “I’m sorry that any of you have ever had to hear of CCSVI”. He went on to say: “I put this treatment in the same category as ‘bee-sting’ or ‘pregnant cow’s milk’ therapy and it (CCSVI) is something that we will have totally forgotten about three years from now”. Dr. Schapiro went on to say that he was strongly opposed to funding upcoming clinical trials of CCSVI by either the government or the MS Society and that “the money invested in these trials could certainly be put to better use where MS research is concerned.”
Over the years, many therapies have been used for relief of MS symptoms, some offering outright cures. Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) or Apitherapy, is one such homeopathic therapy that was widely supported as an MS cure several years ago. Major studies by the American Academy of Neurology, with findings published in 2005 concluded that there was no improvement of disability and fatigue in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis and did not improve quality of life. Adding that CCSVI treatment is in the same exotic category and that it would be impossible for vein structure to be involved as a causal factor in MS, Shapiro went on to say that “the Zamboni theory only works when it’s used for cleaning hockey rinks.”
Not so fast….
Meanwhile, even MS Society executive members are breaking ranks with the Society’s own position on the CCSVI treatment. Julie Goodwin, chairperson of the MS Society chapter in Wellington County, Ontario, after deciding to go to Poland to get the treatment said Friday: “I just really don’t want to wait forever. My symptoms are getting far worse and I can’t afford to wait. My family can’t afford to wait.” Goodwin went so far as to oppose the MS Society’s official position on CCSVI treatment: “The Society is really being over-cautious to the point of utter frustration and as such, they are not in tune with a membership that wants active treatment studies as soon as possible”.
Goodwin is just one of many MS Society executive members breaking ranks with the official position. MS Society chapter leaders from across Canada are challenging the national position, citing that patients returning from overseas after having had the procedure are reporting improvements in energy, acuity, vision and strength.
Back in Winnipeg, Dr. Schapiro, who serves as an advisor to Pfizer and Questcor Pharmaceuticals and is also an advisory board member of Intec Pharma, a company involved with some of the new orally delivered medications for MS drugs, praised the pharmaceutical companies for the rapid development of new families of drugs and new oral drug therapies that were being released to the MS community. “Promising drugs (some of them cancer therapies, re-configured for use in MS) such as Campath, CellCept, Rituxin and Gilenia, are now or soon will be available in recommended doses to MS patients in both the US and Canada as disease modifying treatment options for relapsing-remitting MS.” Schapiro added: “Although many carry significant health risks at the moment, new drugs will always improve in the hands of the physicians who prescribe them.” For the moment, the stock market agrees with Dr. Schapiro. As of August when Gilenia was approved for release by the FDA in the US, Wall Street analysts were predicting that new MS pharmacology releases alone will result in an increase of $3.5 billion in revenue by 2012, and that MS drug sales will increase from $9 billion (currently) to $15 billion annually by 2015.