Report from the trial of Dr. Joseph Burrascano

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The other side -- frontline doctors and their patients

NEWS ARTICLE from NEWSWEEK, 11-6-00, (Nov. 13 issue), By David France

"A War Over Lyme Disease

The debate about how to treat this illness has patients raging and doctors losing their licenses

A few days before Halloween, a popular Long Island, N.Y., Lyme-disease specialist named Joseph Burrascano entered a state Health Department hearing room where one of medicine's rancorous academic disputes will be played out: how much antibiotics is too much when treating Lyme?

This is no mere intellectual inquiry. Burrascano is standing trial before the Office of Professional Medical Conduct on negligence charges for medicating some patients for several years on end. By next February he could be censured or even stripped of his medical license as a result.

Behind this drama is a seemingly simple problem that has balkanized the Hippocratic community. One side, which includes academics and insurance companies, says Lyme can be cured with just four weeks of antibiotics; much more than that is unwarranted, hard on gallbladders and COSTLY besides.

[What about the costs of NOT TREATING chronic Lyme diease? Is it better to have sick employees who are made unproductive by their illness? In the short run it may be cheaper to give palliative treatment for MS, arthritis, dementia, and a host of other diseases of `unknown' origin.

In the long run, the insurance companies would be wise to join with patients to seek a cure for Lyme disease.

Hiding behind negative indirect Western Blot and ELISA tests for antibodies could give rise to class action malpractice suits as direct tests for the presence of the Lyme spirochete are validated beyond a doubt -- tests such as the use of fluorescent antibodies which attach to the spirochetes or the use of a Polymerase Chain Reaction to identify the presence of Lyme DNA.

The "bean counters" should try to understand that none of us wants to be on antibiotics for the rest of our lives just to keep the disease in check without ever eradicating it.]

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The other side, mostly doctors and their patients, says that in "rare" [NO ONE KNOWS THE EXTENT OF CHRONIC LYME INFECTION] intractable cases the infection will require repeated or prolonged courses of antibiotics, costing up to $20,000. Both sides have won huge research grants and have published their studies in medical journals.

Other medical fields are marked by roiling disputes, like whether too many children are drugged for attention-deficit disorders. But as Robert Cassidy, director of biomedical ethics at Long Island Jewish Hospital in New York, puts it: 'This is usually the sort of thing that is fought out at professional meetings, not by tearing off epaulettes in the parade ground.'

Nonetheless, physicians who use antibiotics aggressively have been scrutinized in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Oregon, at the urging of scientists from the other side of the dispute, advocates say. Several have lost their licenses.

What is going on? Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, for one, sees conflict of interest: some witnesses against these doctors may collect money from insurers, he says.

`Our doctors are on tenterhooks,' says Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association. `What have these people done outside of treating sick people for their Lyme disease?'

Burrascano is convinced his prosecution is entirely political, about differences in opinion about treatment. As a published Lyme expert who has testified before Congress, Burrascano says he has treated some 7,000 people from 42 states and 11 countries. `I m no country doc,' he says. `It s not like I m doing hocus-pocus.'

In their complaint, state investigators charged him with mistreating nine patients. But those patients side with their doctor.

Ruth Giglio, 77, a retired schoolteacher who took several courses of antibiotics over a six-year illness, was surprised to learn her charts are evidence against Burrascano. `I totally agree with everything he did,' she says. `I m better, and that's thanks to Dr. B.'

So now it is she who ministers to the doctor. She plans to join other patients at a defense rally this week. [11-9-00] 'This is tantamount to a witch hunt as far as I m concerned,' [said Ms. Giglio]."

2000 Newsweek, Inc.

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE SOUTHAMPTON PRESS, 11-9-00, By Michael Wright

"Protest Will Support Lyme Doctor

Dr. Joseph Burrascano is facing state charges of medical misconduct

Patients and doctors from around the country are planning to rally in Manhattan today, Nov.9 in support of Dr. Joseph Burrascano Jr. an East Hampton internist charged with medical misconduct for his methods of treating advanced or persistent cases of Lyme disease.

The rally was organized by "Voices of Lyme" a group of Lyme disease patients who say they have been helped by the treatments Dr. Burrascano has pioneeered. They will gather at 1:30 in front of the Plaza Hotel at the corner of Central Park South and Fifth Ave.

The State Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) began hearings in Dr. Burrascano's case on Oct.26 at its offices on th Lower West Side. The agency has declined to release the exact charges that have been leveled against Dr. Burrascano, but Voices of Lyme has called for him to be cleared of nine charges of misconduct.

The group has also called for an investigation of OPMC, a division of the State Health Department, for alleged bias in it`s handling of Dr. Burrascano`s case and other cases involving doctors using treatments not recognized by the OPMC.

"The OPMC stated from the beginning that they feel as if Lyme can be cured in about three weeks with antibiotics,""said Voices of Lyme member Ellen Lubarsky, herself homebound and often bedridden by persistent Lyme disease. "That is the definition of a biased board."

Seventeen doctors around the country are said to be investigated for using Dr. Burrascano`s techniques; and at least one, Perry Orens, formerly a general practitioner and cardiologist from Quogue, has already had his license to practice medicine revoked.

Ms. Lubarsky, who lives in Manhattan, said her own doctor, whom she declined to name, also was under investigation for using Dr. Burrascano`s techniques. She said the OPMC is "after anyone who doesn`t follow their own accepted guidelines."

Dr. Burrascano`s treatment strategy for patients he has diagnosed with chronic or severe Lyme disease involves larger than normal intravenous doses of antibiotics for as long as symptoms persist.

The OPMC, which licenses physicians, recognizes the accepted method, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, as oral antibiotics for two to three weeks. But Dr. Burrascano and many of his patients have asserted that such treatment is effective only for patients with early stage Lyme disease and not with advanced or severe cases ...

Voices of Lyme members contend that doctors should be free to use their clinical judgment, and patients like Ms. Lubarsky assert they would not be able to conduct their lives without Dr. Burrascano`s treatments.

"We are very sick people who are scared of losing our access to treatments," Ms. Lubarsky said, her voice cracking with emotion. "If he goes down, we can kiss our medical care goodbye."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE YORK DISPATCH, 11-9-00, York, PA, By RITA BEYER, Dispatch/Sunday News


Locals join fight for controversial doctor They say specialist is among few who are Lyme-literate

Lovette Mott walked into her doctor's office, seeking treatment for Lyme disease and carrying Dr. Joseph Burrascano's guidelines for treatment. The Gettysburg resident had heard about Burrascano on the Internet and was determined to find out whether his protocol would work for her.

Now Mott is one of Burrascano's patients and fighting to defend her doctor, who could lose his license.

If that happens, "you're going to have a riot in the streets," Mott said. "To the extent that we can, we will not go away. We can't go away -- we have no place to go. What are we supposed to do? We're supposed to sit here and die."

Mott and others with Lyme disease from around the country will try to prevent the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct from revoking Burrascano's license amid charges he mistreated patients. Thousands of them are expected to show up in New York today for a rally supporting the doctor.

The medical community is divided on how to fight the disease. Some doctors and patients swear by the long-term use of antibiotics, saying it's the only treatment that brings relief to those suffering from chronic Lyme disease.

Other doctors argue the use of antibiotics has not been proven as a cure, and that their overuse can leave people more resistant to the medications. Lyme disease victims say they're not dealing only with a medical establishment that rejects therapies they say are working, but doctors who dismiss their symptoms and insurance companies that refuse to pay for extended treatment.

Rally: The rally, organized by Voices of Lyme, a grass-roots committee speaking for Lyme disease patients, calls for an investigation of the state agency, which has charged three of what the protesters call the Lyme-literate doctors in the state.

"It's a question of basic freedom that seems to be attacked here, a freedom of being able to seek out the kind of health care that we choose and that is appropriate," said Sy Brandon of Wrightsville. "And it seems as though that is being attacked."

Brandon, who was going to New York with his wife Anita, compared the investigation of Burrascano and other doctors to McCarthyism. "There's a suspicion that's not based on any kind of fact and people are getting persecuted based on that suspicion," he said.

Although the Brandons have lived with Lyme disease since 1982, they aren't patients of Burrascano. The doctor is well-known, though, for his treatment of the chronic disease with long-term use of antibiotics.

"What affects Dr. Burrascano affects the potential treatment of all Lyme patients," Anita Brandon said. "We believe that his guidelines are perhaps more accurate ... as he goes, so does Lyme treatment for perhaps the whole country."

Last Wednesday, Anita Brandon spent the day protesting Dr. Allen Steer's presence at an international conference on rheumatology. Steer is a leader in the "opposing party" among doctors treating Lyme disease, Anita Brandon said.

Opposition: "We're up against drug companies and insurance companies and our government that have formed some type of coalition," Mott said. While protesting last week, Anita Brandon talked at length with a police officer who had been bitten by a tick. And she said she found many of the doctors at the conference receptive to their message.

"They were astounded," she said of the international doctors' reactions to the American patients' quest for treatment. "One of the Swiss doctors said, 'We treat it, so we give them antibiotics until they get better.'"

Only doctors in Burrascano's camp offer the treatment of chronic Lyme disease that the Brandons and Mott say they need. Mott's husband Ken, son Sean, 14, and daughter Kerry, 12, also have contracted and recovered from the disease. But for now, she is still dealing with neurological problems associated with the disease.

"I don't know what the future holds, but he keeps trying things," Mott said. "He's not willing to give up on me."

The current treatment Burrascano prescribed, along with the seizures Mott has been experiencing, will keep her from today's rally.

Support: "We're very much supporting him, we just can't get there. I'm on a different kind of drip right now that takes like five hours," she said. "I think I'm more of a liability to the people up there at this time."

Still, Mott signed a petition for Burrascano that began circulating on the Internet Tuesday. And she has helped spread the word about the rally.

Many Lyme disease victims like Mott will not be able to travel to New York today. "These are sick people," she said. But, for "the ones who are well-enough to travel, this is important to do."

Even Ellen Lubarsky, one of the organizers of the rally, has had to do most of the planning using a keyboard in bed, she said. She hoped to be able to attend today's rally, she said Tuesday.

"When ultimately Dr. Burrascano was charged, we knew this could be the end of getting our treatment. He is the most known physician. If he is disciplined in any will create a climate where it will impossible for us to get treatment. That's already happening," said Lubarsky, who lives in Manhattan. "It's the defining moment because if we allow this to go through ... the chances that any doctor will risk his license to treat us is very slim."

Burrascano isn't expected to attend the rally at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue -- far from the Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

"The advantage is that it's far away," Lubarsky said. "The one caveat we got at the beginning is stay away from the Office of Professional Medical Conduct."

Mott said Burrascano told her, "Let's not make this political. Let's see if they are willing to hear the science. If they're not, we'll have to make it political."

But Mott sees no other choice for Lyme disease victims and their doctors. "It already is political, as far as I'm concerned," she said. "He has no hope of keeping his license except through political action." "

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The members of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) stand in full support of the work of Dr. Joseph Burrascano.

We recognize Dr. Burrascano as an international leader in the establishment of guidelines for the treatment of tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease. Dr. Burrascano's frequently updated treatment guidelines have been the backbone of patient management since their inception and have been found to be effective and successful in the treatment of patients with these complaints.

As with any emerging disease, the diagnosis, treatment, and management of Lyme disease is the totality if the physician's training, skill, and clinical judgement.

We formally oppose the rigid diagnostic treatment guidelines being currently advocated to treat the complexity of vector-borne illnesses. Most importantly, these guidelines are outdated and contrary to what the current medical research has shown to be true regarding the chronicity and persistence of tick-borne illnesses. The thousands of patients physically and mentally disabled by these diseases stand testimony to this fact.

We believe that the proceedings against Dr. Burrascano represent a bias which favors insurance companies and special interest groups, and are contrary to the basic scientific principles of medicine. Unfortunately, the original hypothesis regarding Lyme disease as an easily treated disease ha not held true. To continue to blindly follow this tenet, ignoring current research, jeapordizes the lives of patients with this illness.

In many cases, patients with tick-borne illnesses have been victimized not only by the disease, but also by medical politics. The members of ILADS believe that the treatment of these illnesses needs to exist in a non-threatening atmosphere where doctors can be free to exchange their ideas and treat patients based on evolving scientific evidence.

We feel that an impartial investigation into the adverse influence and politics which resulted in the OPMC hearing against Dr. Burrascano is mandatory.

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To maintain ethics, quality, and cost effectiveness in medicine, we the following physicians, researchers, educators and health care providers recognize Joseph J. Burrascano, MD, as an international leader in establishing comprehensive medical and ethical standards for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses associated with infectious tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease.

Dr. Burrascano's rigorous diagnostic and treatment guidelines particularly for Lyme disease are innovative and practical, reflect sound medical judgment, and are supported by many within the national and international medical community who perform research into, and have responsibility for management of, Lyme disease and chronic tick-borne illnesses.

We believe that Dr Burrascano's approach is committed to preserving traditional conservative medicine. It emphasizes fundamentals of thorough clinical history taking and physical and mental examination and a strong reliance upon clinical judgment, with attention to ndividualized treatment; the importance of maintaining compassion; and the recognition of a patient's legitimate right to access humane, ethical, and innovative treatment.

In support of Dr. Burrascano's approach to the treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, we formally oppose rigid diagnostic and treatment guidelines, commonly referred to as "cookbook medicine," being currently applied to the complex, myriad presentations and varying bacterial strains of these vector-borne illnesses.

We maintain that such guidelines are biased, and designed to suit the economic interests of the insurance industry while depriving patients of timely and effective care and enhanced quality of life.

We believe that New York State's Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) proceedings against Dr Burrascano, and other physicians currently treating tick-borne diseases, reflect a similar bias, and stem from individuals and groups with special interests that are contrary to the best interests -- scientific, ethical, and humane interests -- of Medicine.

Finally, we feel that a thorough and impartial investigation into the adverse influence and politics which resulted in the OPMC hearing against Dr Burrascano is imperative.

We strongly advocate for a just and balanced review, a formal apology from New York's OPMC to Dr Burrascano, and reimbursement for costs incurred in these proceedings.

Signed, [11-9-00]

(At last count) 85 doctors and other health care professionals

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"Lyme Doctors Rally Behind a Colleague Under Inquiry


A group of doctors who treat Lyme disease and about 400 patients with the disease accused medical boards in several states yesterday of violating doctors' rights to treat the illness in ways they believe are necessary and scientifically valid. They singled out a current unprofessional - conduct hearing against a New York doctor as the latest example.

The doctors and patients said about 50 physicians in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas had been investigated, disciplined or had had their licenses removed over the past three years. This has had a chilling effect on the willingness of other doctors to treat the disease, they said.

The underlying dispute centers on the belief by some Lyme specialists that the best way to treat patients is with long-term antibiotic therapy, instead of the shorter course that is ordinarily the custom.

The doctors' protest yesterday came at a rally in Manhattan in support of Dr. Joseph J. Burrascano of East Hampton, N.Y., who they said had treated more than 7,000 Lyme patients from around the world over the past 15 years. A hearing in New York City on charges brought against Dr. Burrascano by the New York State Office of Professional Misconduct opened last week, and is expected to take several months.

The charges are said to have been based on files of nine patients, and include accusations Dr. Burrascano failed to diagnose or treat them properly or to follow up adequately on their conditions. Five of the patients were at the rally, denying the accusations and expressing indignation that their files had been used without their knowledge. All said Dr. Burrascano had brought them back to health or had improved their conditions after long periods of suffering.

One of the patients, Ruth A. Giglio of East Hampton, 77, said the disease had caused her constant fatigue, arthritic pains, heart palpitations and other symptoms.

"He slowly brought me along, with detailed explanations of what he was planning to do, trying different treatments, different kinds and dosages of antibiotics, trying physical therapy until I finally returned to my old self," Ms. Giglio said. "To have taken my files and put together any case against Dr. Burrascano is a kind of medical McCarthyism."

Twenty doctors from 10 states, Switzerland and Germany have signed a petition in support of Dr. Burrascano, to be presented to state officials. They called him an "international leader in establishing comprehensive medical and ethical standards for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses" associated with infectious diseases.

A dispute over how to treat Lyme disease has raged for more than a decade among doctors. One group believes the disease can best be treated, in most cases, with 30 days of antibiotics. The other believes that in perhaps 10 percent of the illnesses, long-term clinical and antibiotic treatment is needed.

Dr. Burrascano's supporters said that medical boards, which decide whether to revoke or suspend medical licenses, have sided inappropriately with one side in an argument that should be fought in medical journals and at conferences.

They also assert that insurance companies and doctors who work as their consultants have financial stakes in the outcome of the dispute. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is looking into that issue at the request of representatives from areas where Lyme disease is widespread.

Speaking at the rally, Michael Schoppmann, a lawyer from Lake Success, N.Y., said he had represented more than 40 doctors in board hearings in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"If a doctor begins to treat patients with Lyme disease in any significant percentage of their total practice," Mr. Schoppmann said, "they are guaranteed to face investigations either private or governmental or both by managed care, insurance companies and state licensing agencies. The treatment of Lyme disease and its financial implications are the insurance industry's worst nightmare. No one dies from Lyme disease, no one is cured, and many patients require years of expensive treatment." ..."

The New York Times on the Web

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE BOSTON HERALD, 11-10-00, By Michael Lasalandra


"Lyme disease sufferers rally for embattled doc

Hundreds of Lyme disease patients, including a large contingent from Massachusetts, rallied in New York yesterday in support of a doctor who faces the loss of his license for treating the disease the way they believe it should be treated.

Dr. Joseph Burrascano of Long Island is facing disciplinary action by the New York Office of Professional Medical Conduct on negligence charges for overmedicating patients.

But his patients say he has saved their lives by treating them aggressively with antibiotics for extended periods.

``I couldn't walk or talk,'' said Sharon Wilner of Texas, who helped organize the rally in New York City at the office of the medical board. ``Thank God, I found Dr. Burrascano.''

Wilner said she found no relief from the illness through conventional treatment - four weeks of antibiotics.

Burrascano puts patients on antibiotics for longer periods - three years in Wilner's case.

``Today, I am antibiotic - free and am doing very well,'' she said. ``It's a miracle.''

The Burrascano case highlights a long-simmering controversy over the treatment of Lyme disease.

Most doctors take their cue from Dr. Allan Steere of New England Medical Center, who is credited with the discovery of Lyme disease in 1978. He insists the illness can be cured with just four weeks of antibiotic therapy and says the illness is both overdiagnosed and overtreated.

As a result, most insurance companies will pay for only that length of treatment.

But patients with persistent cases say they need more. And a minority of doctors, including Burrascano, agree with them.

Members of one patients' group, the Lyme Alliance, protested at the National Institutes of Health last year when Steere gave a prestigious talk.

They said his guidelines are ``obsolete, biologically unfounded and ethically suspect.''

Members of Lyme patients groups rallied yesterday for Burrascano.

``He is one of the pioneers in treating advanced and persistent cases of Lyme disease,'' said John Coughlin of Mashpee, head of the Massachusetts Lyme Disease Coalition, which sent a large contingent to the rally.

``He's courageous enough to treat serious cases, and we're going to go down there in support of him,'' he said.

Another group, Voices of Lyme, says Burrascano is one of more than a dozen doctors in the Northeast, and the third in New York, to be targeted for investigation in connection with his treatment regimen.

``If he goes down, doctors like him will never touch another Lyme patient,'' Wilner said. "

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[AN ARACHNID'S VIEW OF THE 11-9-00 RALLY], 11-10-00

`` It's MisTick, here, and I have to tell you about the very exciting Rally for Dr. B. (Dr. Burrascano), held in New York City yesterday from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.

I [a TICK] had a terrible time making the bus with The Dignified Lady as I had to sneak into the luggage compartment with all of her paraphernalia or I would have been left behind.

So tiring, when we got to the Plaza, I took a nap under a bush.

I awoke to a clamor of sound. New York City, the usual noises, but what was this roar of conversation? I crawled out and stared in amazement. Hundreds, I do mean HUNDREDS of people everywhere!!

In front of the fountain a small stage, podium and microphone was set up. I crept closer. A wheelchair filled with flowers stood in front of the stage, with a sign "In Requiem, Rest in Peace." Farther to the right I saw a Large Tombstone, with flowers at the base of it.

Three signs stood in front of the fountain. One was the ILAD's statement (International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society).

One was a statement of support for Dr. B. from over 85 Health Care professionals including doctors, dentists, vets, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, and more. And one was entitled "A Statement from an Anonymous Physician."

I copied the 3 of them quickly with my 8 arms (a tick can do that) but was almost stepped on so many times I had to stop ...

On the left a Press Area was set up. And the Press, ... all of the Very Best people were there. I saw that Hoc Noble of the New York Times. ABC News Camera-people and resporters stayed the Whole Time. CBS was there and ran our segment on the 5:00 News (I was home in my Web by then).

Nightline people were everyone. Dateline was there. Other press were there, I couldn't see their affiliation as they were sitting down with Lyme people. Another set of camera crew and reporters with a mike boom interviewing everyone.

Eavesdropping, I found people flown in from CA. Brite was there, shining in excitement, Linda and more from Michigan, Lovey from FLA, a whole busload from the D.C. area, MD, VA, from PA, NJ, DE, CT, Mass, RI, NY, New England, and more! "Hap" came down last week for the LDA (Lyme Disease Association of New Jersey) conference and drove home, turned around and came back all the way from Maine, hugs to her.

The atmosphere was electric. The program started with a beautiful solo rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, at the conclusion of which the crowd roared.

Diane L. of LI did a FantasTick job of emceeing. And all of our wonderful speakers, too many to remember. Among them, Mr. K., and his daughter with Lyme disease. Mr. K. spoke movingly of losing his wife to tertiary Lyme disease. Many in the audience wept.

Evan White, a college student and former patient of Dr. B's who has recovered from Lyme disease spoke eloquently of his treatment and his admiration for Dr. B's abilities. Afterward Evan was mobbed by at least 8 young ladies of his age group, who says there are no Rewards in this world?

Statements were read from Senators and officials who could not be there. Pat Smith, as a representative for ILADS, read the ILADS statement ... Tom Forschner, of LDF, spoke movingly of his long friendship and affiliation with Dr. B., and gave tribute to the work he had done.

Two doctors gave eloquent speeches about Dr. B and his professional abilities, one commented quite humorously that his dermatologist had been treating him with antibiotics for over a year, and this man was surely shaking in his boots, waiting for them to come after him next!

Pat Smith gave a Rockin' speech, good people. It started out well, built up, and then she announced "We" were drawing a line in the sand on this day. From this point onward, if anyone stepped across that line to go after our Lyme disease doctors, she promised, we will respond *overwhelmingly*.

We would respond in letters, in the press, in political campaigns, with our elected officials, we would respond in print, in rallies, with *UNREMITTING* pressure, we would respond in as many ways as it took, and - We Will Not Go Away!!!!!!! ...

Mike Shoppman, a lawyer for many doctors in the same challenge as Dr. B. faces, cautioned that we would never know just how many doctors are currently in this same predicament or had faced it in the past because they were bound by the hearing's court-type rules of confidentiality not to speak of the proceedings or the outcome.

Even when successful, or if not, regardless of what sanctions, restrictions, fines, or other punishments, they could not discuss it. We would never know.

This was so very scary, to think that this is currently, as he said, occurring in many states unchecked. We can not let this go on. WE CAN NOT LET THIS GO ON!

There were several other speakers and then the Maryland/Virginia/ Washington D.C. bus people, who had chanted and cheered the whole way up, *could* not be contained any longer, and started up behind their large green banner, coming to the forefront of the crowd with matching caps and chanting

"O - P - M - C, Stop Harrassing Dr. B!!!" Well that did it.

With this, the crowd went WILD and would not stop. We Rocked The City, I am sure. Someone called Doctor B's office and got him on the line on their cell phone, and told him about the rally, and held the receiver up to the crowd so he could hear them chant.

The news cameras rolled, reporters frantically dialed their editors, the sound crew swung the mike booms around to catch the full sound, newspeople scribbled furiously, the chanting went on, and on, and on; and nobody wanted to stop. Finally the Human with the cell phone passed on a message from Dr. B., thanking his friends and supporters for their concern and for this Rally.

That was followed by more chanting until everyone was hoarse and had to stop. And nobody went home. The program itself was over but nobody went home. Instead they kept on meeting and greeting and taking pictures.

On one side of the fountain large groups were posed in tiers of four and five and their group picture as taken with a panorama camera, to capture the width of the crowd. These shots will go to Dr. B. to cheer him along in his fight for justice.

Press crews continued to pull people aside to the press area and roam among the crowd interviewing.

At that point nature called, and I crept up in Bergdorf's to the seventh floor. Looking out of the Ladies room window, down on the plaza, you could not see the cement for the people. It was an unbelieveable shot. The entire Plaza was totally crowded with humans, everywhere I looked.

There were close to a thousand there, an arachnid knows! I crept back down to the ground in awe at what that grass-roots bunch of Lyme people had been able to accomplish. A totally elegant event which no one wanted to leave. Petitions were being signed everywhere. Signs were attached to every surface, every pole.

Brite's sweatshirts were everywhere, and many people also came with shirts with supportive slogans that they had decorated themselves. Melody I think, had made up hundreds of pins for everyone.

The sound people had arrived and broke down the equipment. The Parks people commented they had almost nothing to clean up.

So many hard working people had put their efforts together to make this day a success. Even the weather was cooperative . The rain held out until the last bus and the last humans left, and I, a lonely arachnid, crept down the streets in the beginning of the downpour at 6:10, following The Dignified Lady home in the rain.

I was, to put it mildly, Euphoric!!

With love and eight legged hugs, ''


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MisTick writes (11-12-00):

I couldn't stand it so I have obtained the full text of the very speech that Pat Smith gave, which sent shivers down all of our spines at the 11/9 Rally for Dr. B.

I know we will all join in on drawing and maintaining this line in the sand, and Big Thanks to Pat for verbalizing what we all feel. Hugs to All

"WE ARE DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND," by Pat Smith, LDA (Lyme Disease Association of New Jersey)

"Today is a historic day for Lyme disease. Today marks a turning point in the war against our doctors. Today, we draw a line in the sand with our treating doctors on one side and the "ivory tower establishment" on the other.

Whoever dares to cross this line from this point forward and threaten our doctors' right to treat needs to understand that we will no longer sit idly by. We, as a community, a united national Lyme community, will bring all the forces we have at our command, whether they be political, medical, scientific, or legal, against them.

The GAO investigation taking place in Washington, DC, right at this very moment is only the first step. State by state, we will get legislators, governors, and other officials to listen to us by educating them and presenting not only the science but also the overwhelming numbers of chronic Lyme patients coast to coast.

The LDA (Lyme Disease Association of New Jersey) has already helped initiate this process in several states through health commissioners and state boards. Additionally, we have begun to focus Washington's attention on Lyme disease through the Lyme Disease Initiative.

We will deluge our legislators with information and with patient horror stories, forcing them to acknowledge the grave situation, which exists for our patients and our treating doctors.

We will continue to demand bias investigations of all agencies and/or licensing boards who place our doctors' right to treat Lyme in jeopardy. These boards operate with public funds, and we after all, are members of that public, and we must demand the same rights as all other disease victims have: the right to be treated with antibiotics and the right to be treated with dignity.

We will deluge those who espouse, without science, that 28 days of treatment is enough with cases and literature to prove otherwise. We will leave no stones uncovered in the search for consultants who may be paid with public dollars who advocate this unsubstantiated treatment regimen.

We will raise funds for researchers whose minds are open to the complexity of the Lyme disease organism.

We will support our doctors who are organizing through ILADS or other organizations to become an effective force in our battle to regain the rights of our doctors to treat.

This national disgrace perpetrated upon us by vested interests must end. It began in New Jersey ten years ago with one of the most knowledgeable Lyme doctors hauled before the medical board and branded a "quack."

It continued in New Jersey with another prominent Lyme doctor who was driven to his death after being charged.

Another, and another, and yet another followed until our doctors in New Jersey began to leave the state or go in hiding and not treat Lyme. This sent a clear signal to Insurance companies who have had a field day turning down patient claims and forcing doctors to withdraw from medical plans which cut patients off from more treatment.

Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York followed suit. Licenses were revoked, fines levied, stipulations were attached to licenses. Most often, it has been the doctors who are in the forefront of treatment who have suffered. Why? To scare the remainder. Up until now, that strategy may have been effective, but it will work no longer.

Dr. Burrascano, like those who went before him, has stuck out his neck for the Lyme community and he has produced sensible, clinically based published guidelines to help other doctors help us.

Now, we must help him and all his colleagues. The message needs to be a clear one: Leave our treating doctors practice the medicine they have been trained to practice, which involves all the knowledge, skills, and clinical judgement they possess.

If you cross that line in the sand to attack our doctors, we in turn will attack you with all the science, bodies, and medical and legal expertise it takes to eradicate you as a threat to our treatment and, indeed, to our very lives and the lives of our children."

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