Vancouver company cashes in on MS treatment

A Vancouver-based medical tourism company is cashing in on the reluctance by many provincial governments to fund a controversial therapy to treat multiple sclerosis.

Passport Medical has arranged for foreign treatment using so-called liberation therapy for more than 350 MS sufferers from all over North America, said company owner Mark Semple.

The company’s two-week trips include surgery and recovery care in Costa Rica for about $13,000. Semple said the outcome for many of the patients is encouraging.

“Some of the things I’ve seen could only be described as miracles,” he said. “Is it a cure? No. Is there a vascular component of the disease? I can only say yes.”

But the treatment remains controversial. It was first proposed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni, and is based on the unproven theory that blocked neck veins are linked to MS and that using angioplasty to open the veins can restore function to people with the disease.

Most provincial governments say the experimental treatment still needs more study before it can be widely adopted, although research trials have been launched in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

CBC News

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