Wednesday, February 8, 2012

MS Wars: An In-Your-Face Documentary


I wish TV critics would stop writing obituaries for the death of the TV documentary which seems to be disappearing from many networks.
It's alive and kicking and one need look no further than the quite brilliant hour MS Wars: Hope, Science And The Internet which premieres on CBC-TV's The Nature Of Things Thursday night at 8.
It's not surprising to me that this one really works --after all it was made by the Regina couple Leif Storm Kaldor and Leslea Mair (for Zoot Pictures) --they last delivered the award winning documentary Remote Control War.
The story could have been torn from yesterday's headlines. Or just look at the Internet where the debate rages about the so-called Liberation treatment which many MS patients swear has worked for them.
Both sides in this debate would agree Multiple Sclerosis is a crippling disease and as yet there is no cure. Its long range symptoms include fatigue and loss of muscle control and increasing debility.
Starting in 2009 an Itallian doctor Paolo Zamboni announced he was advocating a new procedure that could help many patients.
It was Liberation Therapy that unblocked plugged jugular veins to help cope with a condition he called chronic cerebrospinal venus insufficiency.
He published one small research paper which got picked up on the Internet and suddenly patients were bombarding their physicians with demands for information about the treatment. As one doctor grumbles an erroneous headline in her local paper produced a stampede to her door.
It all seemed too good to be true and it was. The Canadian government blocked treatment until the proper research could be concluded --but that would take up to a decade of clinical trials.
MS Wars examines the conflict that broke out between conservative physicians and the often rambunctious Internet sites.
We even visit with certain Canadian patients who journeyed to places like Costa Rica where treatnent is available. Some experienced wonderful results while others were clearly disappointed. By humanizing the controversy MS Wars shows that hope can sometimes be illusory.
But it also highlights the enormous power of our Social Networks in arming people with all kinds of knowledge to challenge a system they no longer believe in.
Shot like a news program this one could just as easily have wound up on CBC's the fifth estate.
MS WARS PREMIERES ON CBC-TV's NATURE OF THINGS ON THURSD. FEB. 9 AT 8 P.M.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, with all the press these filmakers have received on what will likely be a sensationalized perspective, I really want to hire their PR firm. There have been more soundbytes about the "award they've" won than the real issue of science vs. patient perspective.

Shirley Renshaw said...

Thank you very much for your review! I will be very cautious when watching this tonite but from what you have written I will watch with faith too.

I am looking forward to the reaction of this documentary after it has aired. No doubt I will be putting my two cents in too!

Thanks again.

TTP said...

All of us in the MS community were concerned about how this documentary would handle the Liberation Treatment story. I think they did an excellent job. As you say, they "humanized" the issue.

One thing they did not bring up was that pharmaceutical companies stand to lose billions of dollars if CCSVI treatment is even a little bit successful.

"The total worldwide market for MS disease-modifying therapies is expected to grow at an 8.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 through 2015, with sales reaching nearly $16.7 billion by the end of 2015, from $11.3 billion in 2010."

Downstream from this waterfall of cash are many parties who benefit from the status quo. This includes doctors who have risen to influential positions in the bureaucracies of institutions like hospitals and universities.

Besides pharmaceutical companies, entire MS research fiefdoms are at risk. There are powerful people in powerful places who are threatened by a relatively inexpensive surgical treatment that just might make then obsolete.

They will do all they can to delay CCSVI treatment. The medical lobby is very hard for politicians to ignore, as they are used to doing "what the doctors tell them".

Politicians in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have had the courage to act. When will Canadians in other parts of Canada get their chance?

Sad to say, there are many doctors in our country who are guilty of moral malpractice.

Tom