Condition unchanged, says Sask. MS patient in clinical trial
The lone Saskatchewan multiple sclerosis patient to have been sent to the U.S. for a clinical trial of the so-called liberation therapy says he hasn't noticed any change so far.
Andrew Dahlen of Saskatoon was supposed to be the first of 86 people going to Albany, N.Y. under the province-supported trial.
Last August, he underwent a surgical procedure of some kind, but doesn't know if he received the controversial operation that's designed to open up constricted neck veins.
Under the trial, half the participants are to receive a "placebo operation" rather than the neck-vein procedure. All of the participants then go through extensive testing to see if their condition improves.
Dahlen's MS causes him to have weakness in his limbs. He says he used to play guitar with his left hand but had to switch to his right.
He says he has no idea if he had the real procedure or the placebo, but in any case, his symptoms are unchanged.
"It's basically the same as before I went," he said. "I'm not any worse ... and that's a good thing."
More patients headed to Albany?
The Saskatchewan government says it stills plans to send more MS patients to Albany.
The province set aside more than two million dollars to have 86 patients take part in the study.
Deb Jordan, executive director of acute and emergency services for the provincial health ministry, said there was an unexpected delay in selecting patients when some research staff left their positions in both Albany and Saskatchewan.
"In the autumn of 2012 the research team encountered some changes in personnel," she explained, adding the province hopes to send more MS patients to Albany later this spring.
Dahlen said hopes he got the real treatment but he won't find out for two years.
Thousands of Canadians with MS have gone to the U.S. and overseas to obtain the vein-opening procedure, which isn't covered under medicare.
Many have said it provides relief from their symptoms, but neurologists are skeptical and some recent studies have suggested it doesn't work.
With files from CBC's Steve Pasqualotto