Scientific Panel Upholds Lyme Disease Treatment Guidelines

Group agrees there is lack of convincing evidence on existence of chronic Lyme disease
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- After more than a year of hearings and deliberations, a special review panel has unanimously concluded that no changes are warranted to the Infectious Diseases Society of America's (IDSA) 2006 Lyme disease treatment guidelines, which have been the subject of an antitrust investigation by Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal.

Carol J. Baker, M.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues on the panel (screened by a medical ethicist) concurred that, based on current evidence, the 2006 IDSA guidelines are sound, including the contentious positions that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of chronic Lyme disease infection and that long-term antibiotic treatment of chronic Lyme disease is unwarranted and unproven.

The panel also cautioned clinicians about diagnosing Lyme disease on the basis of common symptoms, such as arthralgias, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction, which are seen in many other clinical conditions. However, the panel said classic complications of Lyme disease, such as aseptic meningitis, atrioventricular nodal block, inflammatory arthritis, and cranial or peripheral neuropathies, in a patient with Lyme disease risk in whom other diagnoses have been excluded or are unlikely "may be sufficiently convincing."

"IDSA's primary concern is for the health and safety of patients," IDSA president, Richard Whitley, M.D., said in a statement. "Our goal is to ensure that patients are given treatment that is safe, effective and supported by scientific evidence. Allegations that the 2006 guidelines panelists stood to gain from the recommendations are unfounded. In fact, one could argue the opposite was true, because the panelists recommended short courses of generic drugs."

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