Nova Scotia rejects MS trial
Nova Scotia will not follow Saskatchewan's lead in exploring a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The NDP government said Wednesday it's not interested in paying to study an unproven treatment.
"Clinical trials are tremendously expensive," said New Democrat MLA Leonard Preyra, speaking on behalf of Premier Darrell Dexter.
"There's a public purse that needs to be protected and the money we spend on treatments or on research has to be spent wisely. It has to be spent prudently. It has to be spent on evidence and data, not on optimism."
Earlier this week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said his province is willing to fund trials of the MS treatment, known as liberation therapy.
The treatment is based on thinking that MS is a vascular disorder that can be treated by opening constricted veins in the neck and chest. Several Nova Scotians with MS have travelled abroad for the procedure, which isn't available in Canada, and say it has helped them.
Liberal health critic Diana Whalen said Nova Scotia has the highest per-capita rate of multiple sclerosis in Canada, so it makes sense to conduct the research in the province.
"We owe it to the people of Nova Scotia whose family members have MS or who they themselves are suffering from MS. We owe it to them to pioneer this treatment," she said.
But the money the province saves on research will be available for treatment if it turns out that liberation therapy works, said Preyra.
"Both my wife and my mother died after very long and very difficult battles against cancer and in those days we would try anything. I remember peach pits being the answer. People were saying if you grind up peach pits up it's been shown to slow cancer, and that kind of desperation and hope shouldn't drive the funding of public policy," he said.
Wall is still hoping to recruit other provinces. He said Saskatchewan is a long way from starting research trials.