Harper sockpuppet (aka the Minister for Health) kicks us when we’re down

Stephen Harper's Minister for Health. Or, anyone in his cabinet, really.

Stephen Harper doesn’t believe in socialized medicine and he damn sure doesn’t want it scaled up to address the needs of 75,000 Canadians suffering with MS, even if doing so would save the government millions very quickly.

After all, if that same socialized medicine is seeing to it that the provinces are spending 20,000 – 50,000 per patient per year to pay for MS drugs of very limited effect, well- that’s exactly the kind of transfer from the public purse to wealthy transnational corporations ( Big Pharma, to you and me) that puts Stephen to bed a happy boy every night.

That’s what we can take from yesterday’s announcement that the Canadian government will do exactly fuck-all for MS patients in Canada, other than pay a team of advisors to “monitor the situation” around CCSVI research.

I did a fair bit of media work yesterday, reacting to the news, and the key point I tried to make with it all is that yesterday’s news is a big win for the pharmaceutical companies, who already are doing a brisk 13 billion dollar a year business selling immunomodulators to people in the first stages of the disease. They can expect to ride an incredibly lucrative growth industry for years to come if they can only keep competing therapies out of reach. And given that their corporate-friendly associates in Ottawa are calling the shots, I predict we will be among the very last countries in the world to allow MS patients to have their veins unblocked.

The minister says her decision was taken under the advice of the head of the Canadian Institute of Health Research, which, under the direction of its current head, might better be called the Institute for the Ongoing Promotion of Pharmaceutical Research. Check his astonishingly close ties with Big Pharma on this handy CCSVI locator page — might require a login first but well worth your 30 secs to sign up; this is THE cutting edge site for breaking news on CCSVI.

First to reach me for reaction was Sandra Abma from CBC Ottawa, who brought radio producer Kate Porter along for a joint interview that we did in the Herb and Spice shop across the street from my workplace. A segment It got included in their evening newcast – audio of the piece is here.

Carol Anne Meehan of CTV Ottawa interviewed me for their six o’clock news; as of today only ( Sept. 2) the video is here, sixth headline below the video player. ( “Ottawa Man Reacts”). Audio can be heard here if you miss the video sell-by date.

We also made the front page of the Ottawa Sun this morning with this story by Justin Sadler, who has done solid work on the CCSVI file from the outset.

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4 Comments

Filed under Media Coverage, Post op, Research

4 responses to “Harper sockpuppet (aka the Minister for Health) kicks us when we’re down

  1. LaVonne

    It is so good to know you are still doing so well. As usual an excellent read!

  2. Katrinka

    This is very disappointing news but I don’t agree with calling the Minister a sock puppet. She is as caught up in this process/procedural nightmare as we are. That a current minister of the crown is actually listening to experts is unusual these days … but I digress.
    Here’s the thing. Although I don’t agree with her decision I don’t see how she could do anything but agree with the advisors. It is appropriate for her to consult the CIHR. She is probably as aware of their histories as we are. However, in her position, they really are the only ones currently available to her. I do think that there is some credence to the view that they are simply not interested in even considering the Liberation treatment. I am just not sure why. I am not a conspiracy theorist, so I hesitate to paint them all as evil bad guys in thrall to Big Pharma. Besides, I don’t think that gets us anywhere in changing things. In fact it contributes to building the wall between MS patients and the medical establishment and that is going to make what we have to do more difficult.
    So what do we have to do? I think we should be compiling evidence that demonstrates the liberation treatment is safe and effective.
    And that is an interesting problem to address. I have been puzzling about this, in part because I am seriously considering going to Costa Rica to have the procedure but also because it seems that this whole situation has occurred at an interesting time. A perfect storm of events has occurred.
    First of all, Dr. Zamboni had the brainwave about CCSVI and the means to try it out.
    Secondly, the internet and all the communication technology available now flashed his results around the world. Not just around the hospital, not just around town but around the world.
    Thirdly, the current population of MS patients is educated, articulate and activist. We talk about this. We have blogs. We have had tremendous support from the media. We are willing to change our thinking about this disease, willing to try a different treatment, willing to participate in further testing. Personally, I have been able to refuse to try any of the drug therapies. My symptoms have remained mild so potential side-effects have always seemed worse than current and potential symptoms. However, I will have the liberation treatment.
    And finally, we have access to the money (one way or another) to travel to sites where the treatment is available. (Please note here that I am not saying that it is easy or that it is fair that we spend so much on medical treatment, just that it is possible.)
    So what is my point? My point is that a significant number of people have been able to go ahead and have the treatment and have the technology and means to communicate about it, about the positive and negative aspects of it. The Minister and the medical establishment want evidence to prove that taking the step to run a clinical trial. All right then, let’s give it to them.
    And this is where I run into obstacles. I don’t know how to do that. How to collect the information, package it and present it; how to get hold of and use the results of the initiative in Kuwait, for example; or how to follow up on the people who have had the procedure already; whom to lobby; whom to convince that this is research worth pursuing.
    So, I guess this is the challenge. How do we go about presenting the medical establishment, including the Minister, with a compelling and reasonable argument in the fastest way possible?
    We have an opportunity to make some kind of history here. Not just with an innovative treatment of a nasty disease but also changing a paradigm in medicine. Informed, activist patients instigating change.
    An interesting thought, no?

  3. JoAnn Paris

    If the sock fits …

  4. peaceintruth

    Problem is, Katrinka, that the intransigence of the medical/industrial complex is costing people their quality and quantity of life. The “compelling and reasonable” argument you are looking for is that the autoimmune theory of MS has never been sufficiently proven and decades of research based on it’s premise has yielded little in the way of disease modification. Over 2000 people have sought testing and treatment this year for CCSVI. They and others who will continue to go outside the Canadian border to get treated. If there truly is interest in CCSVI and it’s link to MS those people should at least be monitored so that the research to prove or disprove the efficacy of CCSVI is being collected in real time. To refuse to do any hard-core data collection or to fund imaging and vascular experts to delve into CCSVI and then say there is no data so we will do nothing to get the data is hypocrisy at its greatest. I watched LDN go down this path and everybody in the LDN community was polite and non-confrontational. There is still no research being done today. I, for one, don’t intend for that to happen with CCSVI.

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