The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

MS patients to launch rights complaints demanding unproven treatment
By: James Keller, The Canadian Press

6/06/2010 10:17 AM | Comments: 0

VANCOUVER - Multiple sclerosis patients in at least two provinces are preparing to launch human rights complaints as they demand access to an unproven treatment that has excited the hopes of people living with the degenerative disease and already prompted some to seek the procedure abroad.

A group of patients in British Columbia and another man with the disease in Newfoundland say denying them treatment for a vein condition that's been called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, amounts to discrimination.

An Italian doctor recently claimed narrowed neck veins cause or contribute to MS and unblocking them could help treat the disease, but the procedure isn't offered in Canada as the medical community waits for large-scale clinical trials and studies to test the theory.

Jenna Machala, a Vancouver-area realtor who is among the patients preparing a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the province's Health Ministry, said people living with MS can't afford to wait for governments to give a green light to the treatment.

"I have friends who have no time to wait for them to make up their minds and do their blind studies," Machala said in an interview.

"We are begging everybody to have a look at us. It's like we are drowning and no one wants to throw us a life jacket."

Machala said the complaint will argue MS patients are being discriminated against because, she says, the same type of balloon angioplasty used in the experimental CCSVI treatment is available to patients with other medical conditions.