New Brunswick’s doctors have written to the Province, asking them to divert funding from “liberation therapy” to other clinically effective methods of treating multiple sclerosis (MS).
“Multiple sclerosis is a terrible disease, and doctors and patients once held great hope for ‘liberation therapy,’” said Dr Robert Desjardins, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “But recent studies have shown it’s not medically effective in treating the vast majority of patients with multiple sclerosis. It’s time for New Brunswick to suspend funding for individuals seeking this treatment.”
New Brunswick is the only province that provides tax dollars to patients to help them get the treatment. Requests for the fund have dropped off, but dozens of people who wanted liberation therapy have been approved for payments of $2,500 each. The procedure must be performed outside the country, as it has not been approved as a viable treatment in Canada.
“The funding was announced before trials on the treatment were fully completed, and New Brunswick stands alone in the country with its decision to provide funding for patients to travel to foreign countries to have the procedure,” said Dr Desjardins. “It’s time to move on and use those health dollars to help MS patients through proven means.”
The New Brunswick Medical Society sent a formal request to the Province which called for the immediate suspension of related funding. Doctors suggested it be re-allocated to treatments shown to improve outcomes for patients with MS, and have offered to meet with the Province to provide clinical advice to this end.
Liberation therapy was once believed to correct a cause of MS. Studies across North America have confirmed what was feared: patient outcomes for the procedure show it is largely ineffective, and in some cases patients had serious complications related to the surgery.
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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.