Quebec's health minister says he's ready to join other provinces in a national clinical trial of a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Yves Bolduc says he's very open to Quebec collaborating on clinical studies, adding he will ask his own experts to provide him with an opinion.
Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald has written a letter to provincial, federal and territorial health ministers seeking their support.
She has called for a pan-Canadian randomized clinical trial of the efficacy of the so-called liberation procedure.
The treatment is based on an unproven theory that blocked veins in the neck or spinal cord are to blame for MS, a chronic disease of the nervous system that can affect vision, hearing, memory balance and mobility.
Mr. Bolduc says it's a method that shows promise but notes there are no clinical studies to show how efficient it is.
But he's willing to investigate it.
"In this case, we will collaborate with all the other provinces," he said.
But Mr. Bolduc, who's a doctor, told reporters in Montreal on Tuesday that he's very cautious about all new treatments.
"It's a new technology. . . and in medicine, we have to be prudent because several treatments have been announced as being very good, but in the end don't provide much help," he said.
Clinics in Poland, Bulgaria and India are opening blockages for patients who have flocked from Canada and other countries in the last few months.
Some patients have posted testimonials on websites, in chat rooms and in YouTube videos, saying the procedure has reduced their symptoms.
However, two recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the treatment, and some experts have raised concerns about the potential danger of manipulating veins.
The MS community is divided on the issue, with many saying more studies are needed before the treatment can be tested on humans.
Ms. Oswald wants the issue on the agenda for the annual meeting of health ministers, set for next month.
Mr. Bolduc made his comments after a news conference which was held to announce a modernization of Ste-Justine's children's hospital.
The work, which would enlarge the Montreal hospital and cost about $1-billion, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
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