A waste of tax dollars, junk science, and an outrageous conflict of interest?

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LETTER To The Editor of THE PLAIN DEALER, 6-22-01, By Taylor J. Smith

Quoting from the article of 6-13-01, by Gina Kolata: ``Studies ease fear of Lyme Disease, ... [Two studies] addressed the treatment of people who had Lyme disease and later developed symptoms like fatigue, aches and pains, and memory loss. Both were conducted by Dr. Mark S. Klempner of Boston University School of Medicine and his colleagues ... ''

Quoting from Gina Kolata's source, ``"Two Controlled Trials of Antibiotic Treatment in Patients with Persistent Symptoms and a History of Lyme Disease" By Mark S. Klempner and others [New England Journal of Medicine, 6-12-01]: ... Patients with a positive polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) test for B. burgdorferi DNA in plasma or cerebrospinal fluid at base line were also EXCLUDED [from the studies] ... ''

Why should National Instiutes of Health tax dollars be spent to give antibiotics to people that the researchers believe do not have Lyme spirochetes in their bodies? In the absence of spirochetes, there should be no difference beween those receiving antibiotics and those receiving the placebo.

In addition to the PCR test, which determines if Lyme disease DNA is present in a person's blood, a Western Blot test was administered in Klempner's studies to see if the subjects had antibodies in their blood which might indicate a previous exposure to Lyme disease. Klempner and his associates gave antibiotics to people who had a negative PCR and a negative Western Blot, indicating no past or current Lyme infection. Why?

Remarks by Dr. Sam L. Donta of the Boston University Medical Center were included in the New York Times version of the Gina Kolata story: Dr. Donta suggested that the antibiotic treatment used did not work. Therefore it makes no difference whether a person scores positive or negative on Klempner's PCR or Western Blot tests.

A positive PCR and a negative Western Blot can be explained by saying that the person's immune system has been so overwhelmed by the infection that most of the antibodies are used up.

Can a negative PCR and a negative Western Blot be explained for a person with the symptoms of Lyme disease by saying that either Klempner's PCR test is invalid, Klempner's Western Blot test is invalid, or that both tests are invalid?

Those who do not want to pay for antibiotic treatment can explain this situation by saying that people with the symptoms of Lyme do not have Lyme; instead, they have psychosomatic disease or autoimmune disease.

Is there more to this situation than the possibility of bad tests and junk science?

Has Dr. Klempner or any of his associates received money from any insurance company for an opinion that some particular individual with the symptoms of Lyme disease does not have Lyme? Are we seeing here a waste of tax dollars, junk science, AND an outrageous conflict of interest?

[Note that Klempner et al. might have obtained some valid data if they had tested their subjects before and after treatment with a direct spirochete visualization technique such as that provided by:

JoAnn Whitaker, M.D.
Bowen Research and Training Institute, Inc.
P.O. Box 627
Palm Harbor, Florida 34682
Tel: 727-937-9077
Fax: 727-942-9687
Bowen Research & Training Institute

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