Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Secretary Sibelius: don’t make us wait another 3 decades !

Lily Chu, MD, MSHS, Burlingame, CA:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

One Heck of an Inspiring anti-IOM Study Letter

Read this letter.  It spells out  all the issues and connects the dots.  The author has granted permission to share it.  I hope it inspires you as much as it has me. 

Dear Secretary Sibelius, Dr. Koh,  Dr. Maier, Dr. Unger, Dr. Lee, Dr. Fineberg, and Dr. Behney,

As a physician, health services researcher, and person affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), I am writing to you today to request that you consider strongly the letter expert ME/CFS scientists and physicians sent September 23, 2013 and cancel the Department of Health and Human Services’ contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to construct a clinical case definition for ME/CFS. While I am appreciative of DHHS’ continued interest in ME/CFS and recognize the important and influential role the IOM plays in the health of the nation, I believe that the money and resources spent on such a contract might not only be duplicative and better spent on other areas of ME/CFS research  but may end up being harmful to patients in the short-term, by subjecting them to inappropriate treatments, and in the long-term, by obstructing and obscuring research progress.  Patients, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers understand these issues and thus, rather than greeting the contract with joy and enthusiasm  expected, are instead contacting you with their concerns.

Duplicative efforts will waste time, resources, and money

1) Over the decades, a number of different clinical case definitions from different countries have been proposed for ME/CFS. Expert clinicians and researchers have reviewed all of them, found many to be unsatisfactory in describing patients, and, thus, came up with two different consensus-based definitions in the last decade, the Canadian Consensus Criteria (CCC, 2003) and the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - International Consensus Criteria (ME-ICC, 2011). The experts recognize that both the CCC and ME-ICC need further validation and refinement but agree that these definitions are adequate enough to be used NOW both for clinical and research purposes. Indeed, use of the CCC has already yielded a possible treatment, rituximab, for some patients via a successful small trial in Norway. 

2) DHHS’ own CFS Advisory Committee (CFSAC), recommended in October 2012 that “at least one stakeholders’ (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) experts, patients, advocates) workshop  in consultation with CFSAC members [be convened] to reach a consensus for a case definition useful for research, diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS beginning with the 2003 Canadian Consensus  Definition for discussion purposes.” CFSAC did not ask for separate meetings to construct separate clinical and research definitions but for meetings to construct a case definition useful for multiple purposes. 

3) Several studies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Multi-Site Clinical Assessment Study, and a meeting, an Evidence-based Methodology Workshop, are already being planned by the National Institutes of Health to address the issue of case definitions. It is unclear how IOM involvement would add value to the processes already underway. Instead too many cooks may spoil the broth. 

4) Whenever patients, clinicians, researchers, advocates, or CFSAC have asked for increased funds for ME/CFS research and care, like for a Request for Applications (RFA) or for a Center of Excellence, they are told that there is no money. Yet, DHHS has money now to spend on a meeting rather than these repeated worthwhile requests? 

Separate research/ clinical case definitions are harmful to patients, obstructive/ destructive to research efforts

The last 3 decades have demonstrated that the separation of clinical care and research has resulted in suboptimal, even harmful care, of patients and little progress in our understanding of the cause(s) of and treatment for ME/CFS.

As shown recently by the US Food and Drug Administration’s excellent final report from their ME/CFS Drug Development Workshop (The Voice of the Patient), post-exertional malaise (PEM),  exacerbation of all ME/CFS symptoms (including pain, exhaustion, sore throat, insomnia, cognitive problems, etc.) with mild physical/ cognitive activity, is a key feature and disabling symptom of ME/CFS. PEM, not chronic fatigue, is why patients are bedridden, homebound, unemployed, and unable to walk a block. Clinicians from around the globe who see and take care of thousands of ME/CFS patients regularly are well aware of this symptom and thus chose it as a required symptom when constructing both the CCC and ME-ICC.  The management of PEM is also different from chronic fatigue; rather than push patients to ignore PEM and to continue to engage in mental or physical activity, which could result in not only temporary but prolonged disability, experienced clinicians tell patients to balance their activity with rest to decrease the onset or severity of PEM. 

In contrast, the emphasis on fatigue by the 1994 Fukuda and other case definitions promote the image of ME/CFS as a benign illness that can be overcome merely by a positive attitude, increased exercise, healthy diet, and enough sleep. This is reinforced by  European-based clinical trials of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) that claim to substantially improve the health of or even cure ME/CFS patients. These are double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials so they must be the best and last word in care, right? This treatment information is distributed widely in usually trusted resources such as the online medical database UpToDate.  Yet a careful reading of those trials shows that frequently, subjects were selected primarily because of chronic fatigue and that a common primary outcome measure was fatigue reduction. PEM was neither required for subject selection nor measured as an outcome. (Aside from the fact that none of the trials report objective increases in activity, for example, via actigraphy.) 

Consequently, when the results of those trials are applied in practice to patients with symptoms beyond only chronic fatigue,  over  50% of thousands of patients surveyed over the last decade have stated that those treatments made them worse, not better. Patients who follow their physicians’ directions faithfully have ended up bedridden, some for days, others for years. The most recent IOM contract announcement mentions the 2007 NICE Guidelines for CFS/ME from the United Kingdom, where CBT and GET are mainstays of treatment.  The NICE guidelines were not deemed to be “nice” but rather “unfit for purpose” by the ME Association and UK patients, who asked for a  judicial review of that document. When the majority of people receiving a treatment are not getting better or even getting worse, we should ask WHY, not cling to the results of trials and doubt the words and experiences of patients. 

Because most physicians are not educated about PEM and the limits of GET/ CBT trials, patients who do not improve substantially with or defer CBT or GET are either blamed for non-compliance or viewed as depressed, malingerers, or hypochondriacs.  In 2011,  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 85% of clinicians still viewed ME/CFS as a wholly (14%) or partially psychiatric disorder (71%).  A quarter of clinicians recommended referral to a psychologist as an initial treatment. This perception, coupled with lack of knowledge, is why hundreds of thousands of patients all over the United States cannot find a single knowledgeable and sympathetic physician to take care of them. It doesn’t matter if the patient visits Dr. “Average” at a rural private practice clinic or Dr. “Expert” at a metropolitan internationally respected university medical center. The attitude displayed and advice given is rarely different; when choosing “experts”, even those selected for their methodological/ analytic rather than clinical/ basic science skills, will DHHS or IOM consider screening for knowledge about or attitudes towards ME/CFS? Will those who view it as a primarily psychological or psychiatric illness be screened out? I understand  that the current IOM Gulf War Illness panel is currently facing criticism from Gulf War veterans and even from the chairman of the GWI advisory committee, Jim Binns, that the panel includes members who don't think GWI is a physical illness. Will any ME/CFS IOM committee have the same problem?

This history is largely why I and other patients, now joined by expert clinicians and researchers, experience a collective shudder of fear and horror when they hear DHHS plans to a) construct a clinical case definition employing professionals unfamiliar with ME/CFS, b) separate from a research case definition, c) at several separate meetings no less. ME/CFS’s past is filled with examples of ineffective and harmful ideas and treatments visited upon patients without listening to their stories nor to those of the clinicians taking care of them. Confusion and harm has already been incurred by applying research based on one definition (e.g. Oxford-based PACE trials) to patients diagnosed with another definition (Fukuda) and by employing a research case definition (Fukuda), without a solid clinical grounding, that focuses on the wrong symptom. Why make that same mistake again?

We now have two  case definitions, CCC and ME-ICC,  vetted by experienced clinicians that are already being used in both practice and research. I see no need to waste further time, money, or energy on another consensus-based meeting when those resources could be better used to validate/ refine these definitions or find biomarkers, diagnostic tests, or treatments. Patients’ lives are passing by each minute, never to be regained;  don’t make us to wait another 3 decades!

Thank you for your attention, 
Lily Chu, MD, MSHS, 
Burlingame, CA

(bolded text by the author)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear Secretary Sebelius, adopt the CCC and cancel wasting tax-payer money on the IOM contract

Posted by Jeannette on September 24, 2013:
Those of you who have followed the HHS’ CFSAC meetings know that Secretary Sebelius has, through Dr. Lee, CFSAC’s Designated Federal Official, told the patient community and CFSAC time and time again that HHS is not the proper institution to develop an official case definition for ME. Secretary Sebelius also made it very clear that she and HHS would not accept a case definition suggested by CFSAC. Instead, she insisted on a case definition that comes from the medical community.
So …. yesterday, 35 of the world’s foremost clinicians and researchers have agreed on the use of a case definition (see open letter below), the Canadian Consensus Criteria (CCC), that has been used more and more frequently for years worldwide. The CCC were adopted by an International Consensus Panel consisting of “members [who] have approximately 400 years of both clinical and teaching experience, authored hundreds of peer-reviewed publications, diagnosed or treated approximately 50 000 patients with ME.”
Well, Secretary Sebelius, the ball is in your court now. Ignoring the adoption of an ME case definition by this vast body of ME experts would confirm what most ME patients have long assumed, i.e., that you do not have any interest in advancing research and treatment options for ME. I guess the experts called your bluff. What’s your next move?
And are you really going to waste tax-payer money on the IOM contract for a disease that is absurdly underfunded for a task that is redundant? This would serve no other purpose than to continue the government’s policy and tactic of muddying the waters to prevent any meaningful progress in the field of ME, for a long time to come. You have a chance to prove the patient community wrong by pulling the IOM contract. But do you have the integrity to do so?
September 23, 2013
Dear Secretary Sebelius,
We are writing as biomedical researchers and clinicians with expertise in the disease of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) to inform you that we have reached a consensus on adopting the 2003 Canadian Consensus Criteria (CCC) as the case definition for this disease.
The 1994 International Case Definition (Fukuda et al, 1994), commonly known as the Fukuda definition, was the primary case definition for ME/CFS for almost two decades. However, in recent years expert researchers and clinicians have increasingly used the CCC, as they have recognized that the CCC is a more scientifically accurate description of the disease.
The CCC was developed by an international group of researchers and clinicians with significant expertise in ME research and treatment, and was published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2003 (Carruthers et al, Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 2003). Unlike the Fukuda definition, the more up-to-date CCC incorporates the extensive scientific knowledge gained from decades of research. For example, the CCC requires the symptom of post-exertional malaise (PEM), which researchers, clinicians, and patients consider a hallmark of the disease, and which is not a mandatory symptom under the Fukuda definition. The CCC was endorsed in the Primer for Clinical Practitioners published by the International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFSME). This organization is the major international professional organization concerned with research and patient care in ME/CFS.
The expert biomedical community will continue to refine and update the case definition as scientific knowledge advances; for example, this may include consideration of the 2011 ME International Consensus Criteria (Carruthers et al, Journal of Internal Medicine, 2011). As leading researchers and clinicians in the field, however, we are in agreement that there is sufficient evidence and experience to adopt the CCC now for research and clinical purposes, and that failure to do so will significantly impede research and harm patient care. This step will facilitate our efforts to define the biomarkers, which will be used to further refine the case definition in the future.
We strongly urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to follow our lead by using the CCC as the sole case definition for ME/CFS in all of the Department’s activities related to this disease.
In addition, we strongly urge you to abandon efforts to reach out to groups such as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that lack the needed expertise to develop “clinical diagnostic criteria” for ME/CFS. Since the expert ME/CFS scientific and medical community has developed and adopted a case definition for research and clinical purposes, this effort is unnecessary and would waste scarce taxpayer funds that would be much better directed toward funding research on this disease. Worse, this effort threatens to move ME/CFS science backward by engaging non-experts in the development of a case definition for a complex disease about which they are not knowledgeable.
ME/CFS patients who have been disabled for decades by this devastating disease need to see the field move forward and there is no time to waste. We believe that our consensus decision on a case definition for this disease will jump start progress and lead to much more rapid advancement in research and care for ME/CFS patients. We look forward to this accelerated progress and stand ready to work with you to increase scientific understanding of the pathophysiology of this disease, educate medical professionals, develop more effective treatments, and eventually find a cure.
United States Signatories
Dharam V. Ablashi, DVN, MS, Dip Bact. Scientific Director of HHV-6 Foundation Co-founder of IACFS/ME
Santa Barbara, California
Lucinda Bateman, MD
Director, Fatigue Consultation Clinic Executive Director, OFFER
Salt Lake City, Utah
David S. Bell, MD, FAAP
Researcher and Clinician
Associate Professor of Pediatrics State University of New York at Buffalo Lyndonville, New York
Gordon Broderick, PhD
Professor, Center for Psychological Studies Director, Clinical Systems Biology Lab Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine,
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Paul R. Cheney, MD, PhD Director, The Cheney Clinic, PA Asheville, North Carolina
John K.S. Chia, MD Researcher and Clinician President, EV Med Research Lomita, California
Kenny L. De Meirleir, MD, PhD
Professor Emeritus Physiology and Medicine (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Medical Director, Whittemore-Peterson Institute
University of Nevada
Reno, Nevada
Derek Enlander, MD, MRCS, LRCP
Attending Physician
Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York
ME CFS Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York, New York
Mary Ann Fletcher, PhD
Schemel Professor of NeuroImmune Medicine Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Ronald Glaser, PhD, FABMR
Director, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Kathryn & Gilbert Mitchell Chair in Medicine
College of Medicine – Distinguished Professor
Professor, Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Professor, Internal Medicine
Professor, Division of Environment Health Sciences, College of Public Health Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Columbus, Ohio
Maureen Hanson, PhD
Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
Leonard A. Jason, PhD Professor of Psychology DePaul University Chicago, Illinois
Nancy Klimas, MD
Director, Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine Professor, Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gudrun Lange, PhD
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Newark, New Jersey
A. Martin Lerner, MD, MACP
Professor, Infectious Diseases
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Emeritus Director, Infectious Diseases, Wayne State University School of Medicine Master, American College of Physicians
Reviewer, Viral Diseases, Medical Letter
Beverly Hills, Michigan
Susan Levine, MD
Researcher and Clinician, Private Practice New York, New York
Visiting Fellow, Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
Alan R. Light, PhD
Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Kathleen C. Light, PhD
Professor, Department of Anesthesiology University of Utah School of Medicine Salt Lake City, Utah
Peter G. Medveczky, MD
Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine College of Medicine
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida
Judy A. Mikovits, PhD Researcher, MAR Consulting, LLC Carlsbad, California
Jose G. Montoya, MD, FACP, FIDSA
Professor of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California
James M. Oleske, MD, MPH
François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Division of Pediatrics Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Diseases Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Newark, New Jersey
Martin L. Pall, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences Washington State University
Portland, Oregon
Daniel Peterson, MD
Founder and President of Sierra Internal Medicine Incline Village, Nevada
Richard Podell, MD, MPH
Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School New Brunswick, New Jersey
Irma Rey, MD
Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Christopher R. Snell, PhD
Professor, Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences University of the Pacific
Stockton, California
Connie Sol, MS, PhDc
Clinical Exercise Physiologist Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Staci Stevens, MA
Exercise Physiologist Founder, Workwell Foundation Ripon, California
Rosemary A. Underhill, MB BS, MRCOG, FRCSE Independent Researcher
Palm Coast, Florida
Marshall V. Williams, PhD
Professor, Departments of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics; Microbiology The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio
International Signatories
Birgitta Evengard MD, PhD
Professor, Division Infectious Diseases Umea University
Umea, Sweden
Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, PhD
Director, National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases Griffith Health Institute
Professor, Griffith University Parklands Gold Coast
Queensland, Australia
Charles Shepherd, MB BS
Honorary Medical Adviser to the ME Association London, United Kingdom
Rosamund Vallings MNZM, MB BS IACFS/ME Secretary
Clinician, Howick Health and Medical Clinic Auckland, New Zealand
Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health
Dr. Richard Kronick, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ms. Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health
Ms. Carolyn W. Colvin, Commissioner, Social Security Administration

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Invest in ME/UCL Rituximab Clinical Trial for ME

From Invest in ME September newsletter, out now.

Invest in ME/UCL UK Rituximab Trial for M.E.

One Event Can Change Everything

We are pleased to announce that in a very short time we have now, with the help of our supporters, raised £57,000 (now £58,000) for the Invest in ME/UCL UK rituximab trial.

IiME received a very generous matching donation of £25 000 from a charitable foundation that wishes to remain anonymous but has asked us to keep them updated of the progress being made.
This extraordinarily generous support now means that the first part of the trial can start without delay.

The UCL team is working on a study to confirm and expand Dr Bansal’s B cell results in a different cohort of ME patients. You can read Invest in ME’s full announcement here

Our advisor, Professor Jonathan Edwards, will be visitng Bergen, Norway, soon to discuss with the Haukeland team of Professor Olav Mella and Dr Oystein Fluge. This is a wonderful example of the collaboration and cooperation that came from the IiME Biomedical Research into ME Collaborative meeting which we organised in May this year in London [

A pdf document has been added so that the UK rituximab study status may be downloaded and given to healthcare professionals if required. We will update this as we progress -

To accompany the fundraising efforts we have two posters available, which can be downloaded or obtained from IiME. These are available here.

The Funders page contains those groups who have supported Invest in ME by donating. Recent additions have been Richamond and Kinston ME Group and Network MESH West London - who have made kind donations in support of the charity and the trial.

For any groups or companies or organisations or individuals who wish to contribute to the funding of the IiME/UCL rituximab project then we have devised a new fundraising scheme - The MATRIX.

We are pleased to see more and more people taking the challenge of owning a matrix slot and aiming to raise £1000 for the rituximab project. See how the matrix is shaping up here

This has been a truly international collaboration with participation from USA, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and UK.

We thank all those who are supporting us in making this important clinical trial a reality.

Sign up to receive these free newsletters by email here.

Past newsletters are on the website here.

PS 24 September 2013 !!!!!!!!!!!!:

We can now announce that IiME have been given a pledge of £200,000 from a foundation to supplement the amount we have raised already.

This would bring our rituximab fund to almost £260,000 – that is over two-thirds of the requirement for the clinical trial to proceed.

The foundation has two conditions to this pledge
  • That IiME continue to be the lead patient organisation steering this trial
  • That IiME continue to raise funds for the remaining £90,000 that is required for the full trial to proceed
The trustees of IiME have accepted these conditions willingly.
We are thankful and grateful for this extraordinarily generous offer from the donating foundation. It is an amazing gesture from compassionate and caring people who want to make a difference. It allows the hopes of many patients to become a reality – allows a vision to be maintained that there is a future for ME patients and that we, patients and families, can make a difference.
We have communicated this to the UCL team with whom we are working to make this trial a reality.
We are now distributing this information to our supporters.
There were many who doubted that IiME and our supporters could achieve this. Though we knew this would be a daunting task we have never doubted it was possible.
We continue our efforts to raise the remaining funds.
To our supporters who have been with us since the beginning and everyone who has contributed in so many ways to this trial we want you to know this is your result. It is what you have achieved. It is what we have achieved together.
We thank all those who are supporting this trial and we will continue to provide information on the status of the trial as we progress.
We continue to welcome support. Please contact IiME directly if you or your organisation would like to assist or contribute. 
If anyone would like to ask any questions about the UK rituximab trial then please use the Contact form on the rituximab web site [4].
A status is available [5].
With this trial we can take a huge leap forward in ME research.
If you are also interested in the other research projects that Invest in ME is  organising and/or funding please see our main website and free newsletter [6].
Let’s Do Research! Let’s Do It For ME!

Thank You.

 Invest in ME                                            September 2013


Related Posts with Thumbnails