About to embark on my first medical tourism trip, Thanks FDA!

I’m on my away abroad, to stay for a few nights in a foreign city, and pick up my dose of whipworm from Autoimmune Therapies (AIT). It’s difficult to explain everything here, but essentially AIT was chased out of the U.S. by the FDA, as the FDA now classifies helminthic worms as a “drug,” which means they alone have the right to regulate who can provide it. Ironically, this is in a way recognition of the therapeutic potential of helminths, as the FDA has declared a microscopic, living organism to be a “drug.” I do not want to get into some rant about the FDA protecting potential future (and lucrative) intellectual property rights for big pharmaceutical corporations, but that’s most likely the case. Even the majority of medical and scientific researchers working on this therapy awknowledge that they are ultimately searching for a way to isolate and reproduce the chemical compounds that helminths emit that down-regulate the autoimmune response. You cannot (exactly) patent nature, but you can do so for chemical compounds. In any case, most frustrating for us sick Americans, it is only the U.S. which has taken this measure, and only Americans who must travel outside their country to receive treatment. The one exciting (?) part is that I now get to count myself one of millions who have taken a “medical vacation” abroad to recieve services that are cheaper or not available in one’s home country. I have a friend who goes to India for travel, but while there buys glasses (only $10! including eye exam, modern frames, and anti-reflection and scratch guard). Someone please explain to me how the invisible hand of the market enables this one.

This article from The Guardian explains the situation with AIT and the FDA well: Gut Instict: The Miracle of the Parasitic Hookworm

I’ve been going through the usual emotional roller coaster; doubt, fear, excitement, worry, anticipation, hope, but am generally feeling pretty good about it. I’m so thankful that my family and close friends have been so supportive, as well as the good folks at AIT, and everyone in the “helminthic therapy community” who write blogs, document their experiences, and who post in the yahoo message boards.


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