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Commentary
February 11, 2009

Science, Politics, and ValuesThe Politicization of Professional Practice Guidelines

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2009;301(6):665-667. doi:10.1001/jama.301.6.665

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) issued updated clinical practice guidelines in 2006 for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.1 Within days, the Connecticut attorney general launched an investigation, alleging IDSA had violated state antitrust law by recommending against the use of long-term antibiotics to treat “chronic Lyme disease (CLD),” a label applied by advocates to a variety of nonspecific symptoms for which frequently no evidence suggests the etiologic agent of Lyme disease is responsible. The IDSA was forced to settle the claim to avoid exorbitant litigation costs, even though the society's guidelines were based on sound science. The case exemplifies the politicization of health policy, with elected officials advocating for health policies against the weight of scientific evidence.

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