December 1, 2007

IDSA Members Testify at Pennsylvania Hearing on Lyme Disease

IDSA members testified last month at a Pennsylvania hearing on a state bill that would sanction long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease and mandate insurance coverage for it.

Michael Buckley, MD, FIDSA, of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and John D. Goldman, MD, of PinnacleHealth at Harrisburg Hospital told lawmakers that the medical community is concerned that the bill could be harmful to patient care and to the public health by subjecting patients to unnecessary risks such as serious bloodstream and bowel infections, and by promoting the development of dangerous drug-resistant infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“We believe it is critically important that [the Legislature] be fully apprised of the widespread consensus within the medical and scientific community about the appropriate treatment of Lyme disease, as well as the medical community’s concerns about unproven, potentially harmful treatments for so-called ‘chronic’ Lyme disease that are advocated only by a small group of physicians,” they told members of the Pennsylvania House Committee on Health and Human Services.

Drs. Buckley and Goldman cited IDSA’s 2006 practice guidelines on Lyme disease, which concluded that there is no evidence that Borrelia burgdorferi—the bacterium that causes Lyme disease—persists chronically following 10 to 28 days of antibiotic therapy.

The committee also heard from supporters of long-term antibiotic therapy, including a representative of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), which maintains that Lyme disease exists in a chronic form and that long-term intravenous ceftriaxone provides clinical benefit.

Dr. Goldman noted that both organizations agree that Lyme disease should be caught in its early stages. However, he explained that five double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of patients with post-Lyme disease syndrome have shown that antibiotic therapy is not in the best interest of patients.

To read Drs. Buckley and Goldman’s testimony, click here.

For more information, see (non-subscribers can register or pay for access):

Oksi et al. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2007 Aug;26(8):571-81.

Fallon et al. Neurology. 2007 online Oct. 10;0: 01.WNL.0000284604.61160.2dv1 

Halperin, Neurology. 2007 online Oct. 10;0: 01.WNL.0000291407.40667.69v1.

Klempner et al. N Engl J Med. 2001 Jul 12;345(2):85-92.

Krupp et al., Neurology. 2003 Jun 24;60(12):1923-30.

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