“There is a conspiracy between the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies to blackball CCSVI theory.”
There is no evidence of a broad conspiracy against CCSVI perpetrated either by the pharmaceutical industry or by pharmaceutical companies in conjunction with neurologists.
However, if CCSVI is found to be a significant factor in multiple sclerosis, and endovascular procedures to repair CCSVI are even partially successful, the roles of various professions treating MS patients will need to evolve, and change rarely comes easily. Sadly, public discourse around CCSVI has at times become rancorous, and a small but vocal group of detractors have leveled scientifically questionable yet emotionally charged criticisms against the theory. Equally problematic, however, some advocates of CCSVI have made wild and unsubstantiated claims, describing CCSVI as a miracle cure and a “liberation” from MS. Extreme views from both sides have been reiterated in the popular press or in on-line forums, further aggravating already strained emotions.
Regardless of these controversies, CCSVI theory is rapidly gaining the attention of the medical and MS patient population. While Dr. Zamboni spent nearly 20 years studying the venous system and publishing over 30 professional papers during that time, his first paper articulating the full concept of CCSVI wasn’t published until 2008. Since then, doctors and researchers worldwide have begun CCSVI studies or treatment. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Italy, Canada and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (USA) have issued requests for research proposals. The country of Kuwait has embarked on an ambitious campaign to treat all Kuwaiti citizens who have MS with CCSVI treatment. Hence, compared to the traditional pace of medical advancement, CCSVI is moving very quickly, although perhaps not fast enough for many people still suffering with MS on a daily basis.
Should forthcoming research continue to document the importance of CCSVI diagnosis and treatment for MS patients, there appears to be a natural complementary role for CCSVI and current disease modifying drugs (DMDs). If a patient has MS, then combining CCSVI treatment with existing DMDs seems logical, given that there is no evidence that one would impede the effectiveness of the other, and the possibility that the two may provide a synergistic effectiveness. Further, if CCSVI treatment proves successful for a particular patient, DMDs may still be needed to help manage certain levels of neurological or immunological dysfunction that have already occurred. Further, as the vascular components of MS become increasingly clear, new pharmaceutical targets are likely to emerge.
Regarding doctors: hard-working and honest physicians who have helped MS patients battle their disease for many years are often reluctant to adopt new theories about MS without a substantial body of research findings. These doctors have seen many theories and MS “cures” come and go over the years. We should use their cautious remarks and questions to stimulate the important research questions for the future. And of course, patients always have the option to seek a second opinion if they feel their doctor’s recommendations are not consistent with current CCSVI research results.
While patient communities have been at times upset by the mischaracterization of CCSVI in some medical and public presses, CCSVI Alliance would be remiss not to point out there is an entirely different risk associated with CCSVI diagnosis and treatment: it is far too easy right now for unskilled and untrained imaging centers and radiologists to advertise CCSVI diagnosis and treatment. There is little to stop unethical physicians in the U.S. from “setting up shop” and performing endovascular procedures. Unfortunately, where there is money, there may be fraud. We urge patients to seek diagnosis only from imaging centers with a proven history of and documented training in CCSVI diagnosis.