Capitol Hill was the frontline in the battle against Lyme disease at a congressional hearing held Tuesday by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international global health issues.
“As I have met scores of patients suffering the devastating effects of Chronic Lyme—who only got well after aggressive treatment by a Lyme-literate physician—I have been dismayed and angered by the unwillingness of some to take a fresh, comprehensive look at this insidious disease,” said Smith, who co-chairs the House Lyme Disease Caucus. “It will be necessary for the physicians, scientists, government leaders, and media to be discerning – to evaluate the evidence to see if it is based on the best science and to scrutinize the studies and the critiques of those studies to determine whether they are of high quality. We need scientists to speak out in an unfettered way. We need government agencies to show leadership and to forcefully say what we know and what we don’t know based on the best available evidence.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s opening remarks.
Smith is the sponsor of the federal legislation H.R. 2557 to expand federal efforts on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through the establishment of a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee.
One of the witnesses, Patricia Smith of Monmouth County, N.J., the president of the Lyme Disease Association, said many doctors refuse to diagnose outside certain limited federal criteria and subsequently insurance companies can refuse to pay for care.
“Thirty-seven years after Lyme was recognized, sick patients cannot get diagnosed and not be treated because of antiquated, unsubstantiated tests which may pick up 50 percent of cases,” Patricia Smith said. Click here to read Patricia Smith’s testimony.
Other witnesses, including researchers and Lyme disease advocates and patients, were:
- Stephen W. Barthold, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of the Dept. of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology Center of Comparative Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine at the Univ. of California;
- Raphael Stricker, M.D., Vice President of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society;
- Mark Eshoo, Ph.D. Director, New Technology Development, Abbott Laboratories;
- Evan White, Lyme disease Patient
(Click here to read the witnesses’ testimony)