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Joseph G. Jemsek, MD, FACP
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dr. Joseph Jemsek Applauds
Connecticut Attorney General For
Of IDSA Lyme Treatment Guidelines
(November 17, 2006) — Huntersville, NC — Dr. Joseph Jemsek, a prominent North Carolina Infectious Disease physician who specializes in treatment of Lyme disease and associated illnesses, has applauded Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for his newly launched investigation into whether the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has violated antitrust laws in setting new guidelines for diagnosing and treating Lyme disease.
Blumenthal's investigation is centered around revised guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease which were set last month by the IDSA, and have since been adopted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Insurance companies commonly use CDC guidelines for determining whether to provide or deny coverage to people who request treatment for an illness.
In referring to the investigation, Jemsek said, "The revised guidelines set for by the IDSA are even more restrictive than they have been in past years. They were set by a small group of physicians who chose not to accept the vital, clinical information that Lyme-treating physicians and Lyme-infected patients were offering with regard to the disease. I and eight of my infectious disease colleagues from around the country asked the IDSA to include us in the process of revised the guidelines but were denied. The domino effect of these revised guidelines is that more patients are now being denied insurance coverage for treatment."
Attorney General Blumenthal has filed a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to look into possible anti-trust violations by the IDSA in connection with alleged "exclusionary conduct and monopolization in the development of the Lyme guidelines."
In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Blumenthal said, "These guidelines were set by a panel that essentially locked out competing points of view," Blumenthal said. "Presumably, the IDSA is a non-profit making organization, but such organizations can still be used for anti-competitive purposes."
Blumenthal's office has received numerous complaints from both patients and doctors about the guidelines. "One of the common complaints we've received relates to denials of insurance coverage, that XYZ insurer won't cover this form of treatment because the guidelines make no provisions for it," he said. "It's a very chilling economic effect."
Says Jemsek, "There is an astonishingly small number of physicians in the United States who are willing to treat Lyme disease for fear that they will be disciplined by their state medical board for treating 'outside of the guidelines'." Over the past five years, Jemsek has seen patients from 42 states and several European countries seeking treatment for Lyme disease. "Medicine is constantly evolving and we, as physicians, need to be open to this evolution. The move by the IDSA has set us back, rather than moved us forward. It is the patient who suffers from their narrow minded views."