Studies Question Effectiveness, But Massachusetts Lawmakers Urged to Back Lyme Disease Treatment

Some people suffering the effects of Lyme Disease are asking Massachusetts lawmakers to require insurance companies to pay for long term antibiotic treatment. But studies have not found the treatment to be effective. A hearing on the issue was held Wednesday at the State House.

Richmond resident Victoria Lehtonen contracted Lyme disease in 2009. She experienced headaches, fever, fatigue, insomnia and terrible joint pain. Then she switched doctors and started a controversial treatment – long term IV antibiotics. Her mother, Karla Lehtonen, says there’s been improvement. 

“Last year she could not read,” Lehtonen says. “She had very very severe fatigue, she could not write.  This year she is keeping up with online coursework, her physical therapist is reporting improvement since starting IV treatment in terms of her stamina and her ability to do exercise without fatigue.”

Insurance companies cover short term antibiotics to treat Lyme Disease. But in most cases they won’t cover long-term IV treatment with antibiotics  because – according to the National Institutes of Health – no study has proved their effectiveness and the treatment can cause serious complications. 

A committee leader says he plans to advance the bill and send it to the Center for Health Information and Analysis for further study.

Photo via Flickr from Rachel Cobcroft