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Lyme Disease Is the New Fibromyalgia

Twenty years ago, fibromyalgia was the single most controversial diagnosis in disability cases. The disability insurers would routinely dispute whether it constituted a real “illness.” They went so far to recruit any doctors which would write that the constellation of symptoms experienced by claimants were little more than physical manifestations stemming from psychological disturbance. An in-house medical director at Unum pejoratively called fibromyalgia “Burn Out Syndrome.”

Eventually, fibromyalgia became an increasingly accepted diagnosis, partially as a result of the number of medical providers who supported the diagnosis and backing research. I attribute the main reason for the acceptance of the fibromyalgia to another source: mass media advertising. Pfizer introduced its drug Lyrica by bombarding the television airwaves with it advertisements saying over and over that: “Fibromyalgia is a real illness.” If you did not see the television ads, then there were the print ads. No matter what, fibromyalgia was now established as “real” over and over again in the consumer’s mind including those of the judiciary.

Of course, this does not stymie the disability insurers who have now using the same fibromyalgia playbook to address Lyme disease. The insurers are very quick to have their retained medical reviewers state that Lyme disease is a controversial diagnosis and note that the findings including positive serologic/genetic tests are not proof positive that the disease is present. As with fibromyalgia, these biased medical reviewers are careful to avoid the clinical aspects of the diagnosis. They make no effort to explain why the claimant suffers from the same, consistent assortment of symptoms. They just contest the diagnosis in order to try to negate the associated disability in spite of mounting medical literature which supports that presence of the disorder.

Unfortunately, unlike fibromyalgia, there is no mass-marketed, branded medication which ameliorate its symptoms which is available from the drug manufacturers. So, there are no educational campaigns bombarding the airwaves stating that Lyme disease is a “real” illness.

This firm prides itself on its efforts to educate the judiciary concerning the realities of Lyme disease by presenting updated medical literature acquired from the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, this nation’s largest medical library. This more informed approach attacks the insurer’s hired guns and demonstrates that the contrary medical reviews issued have no basis in medical fact and are only the product of testimony for compensation. It is not lost on them that Scott Elkind has a bachelors degree in biology and a Masters in forensic sciences, a scientific and medical background few lawyers possess. Their claims personnel and lawyers cannot match this acumen in defending their corrupt economically-driven positions favoring denial of Lyme disease disability claims.

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