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Review Panel Leaves Controversial Lyme Disease Guidelines Unchanged
Date:4/22/2010

Experts dismiss need for long-term antibiotic therapy, but opponents call decision a 'rubber stamp',,

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- After more than a year of study, a specially appointed panel at the Infectious Diseases Society of America has decided that controversial guidelines for the treatment of Lyme disease are correct and need not be changed.

The guidelines, first adopted in 2006, have long advocated for the short-term (less than a month) antibiotic treatment of new infections of Lyme disease, which is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria transmitted to humans via tick bites.

However, the guidelines have also been the focus of fierce opposition from certain patient advocate groups that believe there is a debilitating, "chronic" form of Lyme disease requiring much longer therapy.

The IDSA guidelines are important because doctors and insurance companies often follow them when making treatment (and treatment reimbursement) decisions.

The new review was sparked by an investigation launched by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose office had concerns about the process used to draft the guidelines.

"This was the first challenge to any of the infectious disease guidelines" the Society has issued over the years, IDSA president Dr. Richard Whitley said during a press conference held Thursday.

Whitley noted that the special panel was put together with an independent medical ethicist, Dr. Howard Brody, from the University of Texas Medical Branch, who was approved by Blumenthal so that the committee would be sure to have no conflicts of interest.

The guidelines contain 69 recommendations, Dr. Carol J. Baker, chair of the Review Panel, and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, said during the press conference.

"For each of these recommendations our review panel found that each was medically and scie
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