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Friday, July 12, 2013

New Brunswick doctors want government to stop funding liberation for MS patients

The Canadian Press

FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government should stop spending public money on so-called liberation therapy for multiple sclerosis patients because those funds could go to more effective treatment, the New Brunswick Medical Society says.
The society said Friday that the government should immediately suspend a fund it set up two years ago to help people with MS in New Brunswick pay for the treatment abroad.
The group's president, Dr. Robert Desjardins, said recent studies have shown liberation therapy doesn't work for the majority of patients. He said the money set aside for the New Brunswick program would be better spent on clinically effective treatment.
"We think MS patients would benefit more in having this kind of money invested in helping them with physiotherapy or other ways to improve their life," he said in an interview from Bathurst.
Desjardins said the government did the right thing in 2011, but its policy has to change, given the latest evidence.
"If I had such a terrible disease ... I would try to get hope with anything," he said. "(But) we said back then there was no proof of its efficacy. It was more anecdotes. ... I'm not criticizing the fact that the government wanted to help our population. People needed hope, and they needed help."
Desjardins said 82 people in New Brunswick took advantage of the program and travelled abroad for treatment. The total cost of the program was just over $200,000.
The doctor, who practises in Bathurst, said the society is offering to meet with provincial officials to provide clinical advice.
The group represents 1,600 doctors in the province.

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