hi-ms-trials

Some people with MS say they get relief from a surgical procedure designed to open up blocked neck veins. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's plan to send 86 multiple sclerosis sufferers to the United States for clinical trials has been dealt a major blow.

The province said Monday it's been informed that the Albany Medical Centre has decided to stop its clinical trial into the effectiveness of a controversial neck-vein therapy.

The government said it's been told the Albany researchers weren't able to recruit enough total participants to meet U.S. government requirements for a clinical trial.

As part of the study, Saskatchewan was planning to spend $2.2 million to send 86 Saskatchewan MS patients. So far, six provincial residents have been to Albany to participate and the government has spent about $150,000.

MS is a neurological disease that can impair mobility and cause other serious health problems.

In recent years, many Saskatchewan people have gone to other countries for an angioplasty type treatment designed to open up blocked neck veins. The procedure isn't covered by medicare.

Proponents of the so-called liberation therapy say it provides relief, while critics say any improvement is temporary or may be due to a placebo effect.

The Saskatchewan government said it now wants to see what it can do for the people who had volunteered for the trial.

Under the original plan, one portion of the participants was to receive neck-vein therapy, while the remainder were to receive a "placebo" procedure.

At the end of the two-year trial, the participants were to be told which group they were in and the "placebo" patients were to be offered the surgery.

CBC News has been told that the six Saskatchewan participants are now being informed whether or not they received the procedure.