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Lyme Disease Quackery – Protecting Patients

lyme disease quackery us federal trade commissionLaws on quackery leave a lot to be desired in terms of protecting the consumer from exploitation. The Food and Drug Administration is able to fine and prosecute those promoting Lyme disease devices such as the zapper, medical treatments, or ‘natural’ cures using false information and can also step in when a product is actually dangerous. In some cases it is the Federal Trade Commission which protects consumers from quacks by investigating those using misleading advertising but the most common way in which quacks are prosecuted is through the US Postal Service. This might seem quite peculiar but quacks often rely on sending false advertising through the post and they can be prosecuted in such cases for using the mail to defraud someone. Several Lyme disease quacks have been found guilty of mail fraud but few have been actively pursued for criminal damages or endangering patients.

Quacks Evading Prosecution

The FDA, FTC, and the US Postal Service are all restricted in their efforts to protect consumers by having only a small number of staff working on such investigations. The tactics employed by many Lyme disease quacks, such as vague wording on advertising, and disclaimers showing that their products are not FDA-approved means that they are less likely to be charged with misleading the public. Consumers may be angry after being misled by quacks but they are also often embarrassed to admit any gullibility and so no charges are brought against the merchants or practitioners.

Targets of Lyme Disease Quacks

An article in The New England Journal of Medicine outlined four groups of patients said to have chronic Lyme disease. The first group are those with no evidence of infection and variable and intermittent symptoms. Group two encompasses those wrongly diagnosed with Lyme disease when they actually have another, very real illness. The third and fourth groups have evidence of previous infection with Lyme disease but have experienced, or continue to experience, atypical symptoms of infection.

This same article notes that the first two groups are the most likely to be preyed upon by Lyme disease quacks and may undergo months, or even years of treatment with powerful antibiotics which have serious side-effects and potentially fatal complications. Many patients are unwilling to accept a psychological explanation for their very real symptoms, perhaps due to the perceived difficulty of treating such a condition, and instead pursue a diagnosis of physical disease relentlessly, sometimes even making themselves sicker in the process. Those encouraging this kind of futile attempt at achieving a non-existent diagnosis are often harming a patient even when acting with the best of intentions. Lyme disease quackery is not always malicious but it can be extremely damaging and does little to further Lyme disease advocacy efforts.

Challenging Lyme Disease Quackery

Campaigns to improve Lyme disease tests and carry out more extensive clinical trials for patients diagnosed with persistent Lyme disease, chronic Lyme disease, or post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome are the best ways of raising the profile of the illness without encouraging Lyme disease quackery. Improving general standards of scientific education may also help patients see through those offering miracle cures or twisting the available evidence to suit their theories. It is also important that public health authorities regain some modicum of respect in the eyes of Lyme disease patients and look closely at how they communicate with the public about conditions like Lyme disease. Patients must strive to remain resistant to unproven and damaging conspiracy theories, and stay strong in the face of unscrupulous doctors and exploitative Lyme disease quackery.

Read On –> Chronic Lyme Disease Quackery