Category Archives: Research

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.



Filed under Media Coverage, Post op, Research

Super-motivated Canadian lab coats pulling out all the stops to find “potential” abnormalities; preliminary report could be rushed through in few short years!

Team of top scientists working around the clock to find a cure

Ottawa journalist Becky Rynor has been doing a thorough job of tracking the CCSVI story from the beginning. She’s talked to MS sufferers and their families, discovered local context for the story, and published her work in the Globe and Mail.

Here she takes the time to balance the narrative by letting a representative from the Canadian MS research establishment explain, in his own words, how he sees his CCSVI-related research unfolding over series of steps that by any measure would surely represent three to five years of additional waiting time for any Canadian MS sufferer. But no mind; as he makes clear in the final paragraph, it’s all because the research has your best interests at heart!

In completely unrelated travel news, the rough guide to Bulgaria is available from – used and new from $14.64.

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Filed under Future thoughts, Research

Educational activities

I have a question!

Like hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, tonight I saw the W5 documentary “The Liberation Wars”

It certainly got me thinking about which MS treatments are allowed in Canada, and which are not.

I got to thinking about some of the dollars involved in the treatments.

I shot Teva products into my arm every day for ten years, so I know a a bit about the kind of money that company pulls down. Their Copaxone injections cost my workplace drug plan $18,000 a year, which goes a long way to explain how the makers of the world’s top-selling MS drug did gross sales of $11 billion in 2008.And then there is Biogen Idec,  the makers of Tysabri, the MS treatment that costs 17,000 US a month, I’ve been told. Fine firms both, I am sure, that have  poured millions into research along the way. We likely know a lot more about immune reactions thanks to their studies.

But still,  I wonder about medical consultants or advisors to firms of such unimaginable wealth. Such advisors could do so out of the kindness of their hearts. Or they could be paid handsomely for their association with such corporations. I might have my own thoughts and so might you, but the next time the news media interviews such an individual in relation to the whole debate about which MS treatments Canadians are allowed to receive, they might do  a huge service to the discourse by simply asking: “how much money have you personally received from companies that manufacture and market drugs used to treat MS” — with the camera rolling.

Don’t you think?


Filed under Post op, Research

Research notes, from both sides of the water

Dr. Michael D.Dake of Stanford University’s School of Medicine give a thorough overview on the rationale behind intervening to improve the function of jugular and azygos veins in patients with MS (the CCSVI treatment) to the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiologists in Tampa, Florida, just three weeks ago. The first part of his talk is the embed above, the second part can be seen here.

International Journal of Angiology

Angiology – that’s another phrase for Vascular Medicine, I’ve been told. Arteries, veins, that kind of stuff. It’s the European term for what we would usually call Vascular Medicine, and the IJA has a strong European bent to its authorship and its subscription base. Therefore, its dissemination makes a useful counterpoint to the video above, which was presented to a largely North American gathering.

The IJA just dedicated their entire April issue to CCSVI/MS.

Nine original studies, plus a case study, and a review. Summaries and abstracts here.

Each summary or abstract is only a paragraph long, and you can get to the gist of each by scanning to the last sentence. To this layperson’s eyes, the theory behind the Zamboni/CCSVI model of disease would appear to be buttressed or supported in each case.

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Filed under Research, Resources