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Can this Lyme disease exposé get under Oscar voters' skins?

November 13, 2009 | 10:09 am
"Under Our Skin"

Let's hope the Oscars cite "Under Our Skin" next week when the academy unveils the shortlist of titles in the running for best documentary feature. It's not only a compelling work of filmmaking; it's important because of its shocking message: Lyme disease may be going undiagnosed as a greater and more widespread threat to Americans' health than AIDS.

"Under Our Skin" has won more than a dozen top awards at film festivals (see the full list here at the docu's website), but it still doesn't have a U.S. distributor. It had its qualifying run in a Los Angeles theater to make it into the Oscar race — the week Michael Jackson died — but it still needs to be adopted by a major distributor to make sure it's widely seen. This is one of those cases in which the Oscars can play a starring role in an urgent cause.

At a time when America's leaders battle over how to fix the nation's healthcare system, "Under Our Skin" is an illuminating anecdotal example of what's ailing. Bravely, it spotlights many victims of a fast-growing epidemic of Lyme disease who go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of corruption in the healthcare biz.

"We've submitted this film at the Oscars because we want it to be seen by the largest number of people," producer-director Andy Wilson tells Gold Derby. "If we get into the Oscars, it might make a big difference toward creating changes in the medical and insurance industries needed to save lives."

"Under Our Skin" has been a crusade for Wilson, who shot 400 hours of footage over five years while chasing suspicious medical and legal authorities to get justice for their victims: Lyme disease patients who can't get proper care because the medical industry doesn't see profit in it.

"We focus on several powerful cases," Wilson says, "but there were many others we encountered along the way — some too tragic to include."

See more about "Under Our Skin" at its website.

Photo credit: Open Eye Pictures

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I have Lyme disease. Years ago, before my diagnosis, I made fun of Fibromyalgia. In fact, when I first realized something was wrong with my health, one physician actually suggested fibromyalgia. I woould not accept a diagnosis of a disease for which there is no definitive test. Finally, a doctor tested me for Lyme (and many other things) my first Lyme test came back positive. I have had a total of 5 tests, each has been positive, but not all identical, even tests taken within weeks of each other.
I can understand people who think chronic Lyme is make believe, simply because not all people with Lyme test positively for Lyme, and, as in my case my results have been slightly different each time I've had a test.
To people who haven't experienced this or who are skeptical, please be open minded. To people with Lyme who have beat it, please share your stories. there are no enough success stories.
I am fighting a tough battle right now and to hear success stories would mean the world to me.

Tessa my post below yours. Under Our Skin apparently is pro-ILADS, not pro-IDSA. Google: "Bush and Lyme disease: what's the secret?" for UK Guardian article that states..."The White House won't reveal the length of the president's antibiotics course. Are they protecting the insurance industry?". It's a good article, except it presumes the coverup is due to Bush possibly receiving long term and/or IV antibiotics instead of just 3 weeks of doxcycline (standard protocol for acute Lyme disease). However, why doesn't the article, or anyone for that matter, ask if amoxicillin was used instead since it is much safer, and equally efficacious according to leading Lyme researcher Dr. Sam Donta, than doxycyline? More on this in my post below...

I agree with all the comments directed at Andrew and cannot remember exactly what he said, but I do remember one thing. He referenced the idea that chronic lyme disease does not exist according to scientific studies - He needs to research this statment. Dont take it from me or from anyone else - Read it and you will see those tests are ages old and inaccurate as it was not even controlled studies - OUTDATED! I really don't think the Conneticut Attorney General could sue the IDSA and come out with the outcome that has played out if there was not any validity in the suit. I believe probably Andrew is a member of our great IDSA Board trying to once again bash the TRUTH - Well the garbage has been cleared and I believe people are beginning to see the truth - Sorry- TRUTH PREVAILS EVENTUALLY!

I'm also skeptical of this documentary. 'Under Our Skin' doesn't appear to investigate both sides sufficiently (even though it "gives insurance their say"). It's pro-ILADS, which is basically pro-pharma. Is it disseminated Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme bacterial spirochete) or pharmaceutical mayhem causing the ongoing symptoms? Compare chronic (tertiary) Lyme disease with antibiotic adverse side effects and they're practically identical. Perhaps due to sending neurotoxins across the blood brain barrier causing inflammation (encephalopathy), lesions, demyelination, etc. MS, which Lyme is reportedly often misdiagnosed as, has been considered a disease of the BBB; that there is a direct correlation between the severity of MS and compromising (crossing) of the blood brain barrier. The FDA states the doxycycline antibiotic (used for acute Lyme and which crosses the blood brain barrier) causes encephalitis in children under eight, yet the CDC and NIH state the reason doxy is not prescribed to children under eight is due to teeth discoloration. Moreover, amoxicillin doesn't cross the blood brain barrier nearly as much as doxy, thereby a much safer and, according to leading Lyme researcher Dr. Sam Donta, equally efficacious treatment for Lyme disease. Finally, if Lyme disease is indeed medical neglect due to cost as 'Under Our Skin' purports, why doesn't the documentary call for a pharmaceutical price cap? Probably because pharma funded this propaganda.

Ask Michael J Fox to head up this discussion on Lyme Disease.
He got on the Dave Letterman show in 1998 and told the world that he had Lyme Disease and now he has Parkinson's Disease.
why is Michael J Fox ducking this Issue?
why won't he talk about what happened that changed his diagnosis.
What is he hiding.
Michael J Fox has turned his back on Lyme Disease!
Do your homework Andrew you don't know what you are talking about.

I think that Andrew did us all a huge favor!
His ignorant post motivated many people to write great posts explaining to all who read these comments the real truth about Lyme disease and it's debilitating effect on human beings.
Lyme disease is not a new disease and is not only in the US, with the climate around the world expanding the areas where the infected ticks live and with travel to all corners of the world becoming commonplace a person can be infected away from home and not know they have the disease till they are home . So lets get the medical proffessionals on board and find a cure for this diesase.
Watching Under our Skin should be mandatory for all med students as well as for anyone else in the medical proffession, that would include dentists, and specialists in every field of medicine, especialy Infectious Disease specialists and of course those people in each country who are responsible for creating guidelines for treatment. please take a moment and check out the segment about Lyme disease which appeared on Canadian TV last night ( Nov 14 2009)

I am a Vocational Expert at Social Security hearings. I carry a stack of brochures with me to hand out (discreetly) to the numerous petitioners who sit and weep as they tell their story of multiple doctors and specialists who diagnose atypical MS, fibromyalgia, CFS, etc. The human suffering from misdiagnosis is compounded by the cost of disability to the American taxpayer. Hope the Oscar's give this film and nod.

To people like Andrew et al..The ignorance of society and the medical community will be to the very peril of those who ignore a pandemic that has far surpassed AIDS as being the #1 Infectious Disease in the world. In fact, two doctors profiled in the movie, Dr. Klinghardt and Dr. Alan MacDonald, a famous pathologist who extrapolated 10 DNA samples from Alzheimers patients brains from Harvard Med.Ctr. lab and found 7 out of 10 had BORRELIA (=LYME)!!! In fact both doctors reported that patients dx w/MS, ALS, Parkinsons & other neurological syndromes (NOT diseases) had borrelia causing the symptoms..!!! When will the world community wake up!!!???? Again, at the peril of all of us who suffer day in and day out with symptoms that have destroyed our lives!

An excellent documentary telling it as it is.

Lyme Disease is not exclusive to America. Borreliosis was infact being treated in Europe in the 1950's. sadly since the IDSA 2006 Guidelines authors got involved treatment has become more restrictive.

I was one of the lucky ones whose GP suspected and treated me according to ILADS guidelines on long term antibiotics although it had taken four years of chronic arthritis before improvements following a chance course of antibiotics led my GP to suspect Lyme Disease then the history of tick bites bulls eye rashes and summer flu' all documented on my case became relevant.
It had taken 5 doctors and 3 rheumatologists 4 years to diagnose me. Now 2 1/2 years later I am 100% recovered although I had been retired early on ill health grounds.

Sadly in UK our Health Protection Agency follows IDSA discredited guidelines even though IDSA Chariwoman was quick to point out the July presentation (part of the Guidelines review process) that European studies were not relevant to USA as USA only have one species and Europe have at least three different species, known to present differently. Clearly the converse must apply and therefore HPA cannot blindly follow American guidelines.

Those who should and could help, cherry pick science and play with words to misguide our doctors.

I was lucky but am in touch with many patients and parents of young children struggling for treatment.

This documentary tells it exactly how it is and has won the oscars from the patients.

It is obvious that Andrew does not have Lyme disease, because if he did, he would not be so dismissive and cruel. Those of us with the disease are grateful for our Lyme-literate MDs, the only doctors who are willing to risk everything to treat us. Maybe Andrew should actually see the film before he starts trashing it.

Please use your analytical assumtion of the medical mistrust here. Our Govt. just contracted a lab to come up with another swine flu vaccine. They gave them 147million dollars to do this. So this means the other 5 we have available are not worth squat or the WHO is lying when they say this virus is very stable. If you know of someone with MS/ALS/Chronic Fatique/Stills disease/Alzheimers/Autism/Fibromalagia/ETC. ETC. you have probably seen LYME. Give them the 147 million. Those patients are having to find this out for themselves. Why? Think about all the meds/dollars that would be lost if it did turn out that all those patients could have a life with antibiotics on board while ditching the others.

Andrew, do not see the film if you are looking for an in-depth expose' of the science and the controversy of chronic Lyme disease. Film is not a good media for such technical depth, though this film is an excellent overview of the problem and the players. Film is art, not treatise.

Instead, I recommend you read Pamela Weintraub's book, "Cure Unknown." As a science writer and editor, as well as a Lyme patient and caregiver, she might provide you the history of the controversy and the level of detail you are looking for.

In response to Andrew's comment: see the film, battle the horrific symptoms of Lyme disease for over twenty years on a daily basis, battle insurance companies who don't want to pay for proper treatment, and do your research. There are numerous studies and a vast amount of research which support the existence of chronic Lyme disease. The fairly recent discovery of biofilms in relation to spirochetes is just one of them. Do your research - the makers of this film as well as those suffering from this serious disease have. Chronic Lyme disease is not "a bogus diagnosis". The "charlatans" you refer to have been saving patients' lives because they have done their research and they are literate in the vast complexities of Lyme disease. You clearly are not.

Andrew's comment below shows a lack of knowledge about both the politics of medicine and the science of Lyme disease. "Under Our Skin" shines a bright light on both of these, calling into question the conflicts of interest that are now pervasive among university based researchers and how those conflicts bias both science and medical treatment guidelines.

Calling chronic Lyme disease a bogus diagnosis and those who treat it charlatans suggests that Andrew is either one of those aforementioned conflicted researchers, or one who has been influenced by their fraudulent "science".

Anyone who has studied the science of Lyme disease fully and objectively understands that there is ample evidence of persistent infection that evades recommended courses of antibiotics. Suggesting that there are any definitive answers as to the cause of chronic Lyme disease is what is bogus. And that is why people need to see "Under Our Skin".

This topic is an issue that is affecting more people than we can possibly imagine. Could very well be the underlying cause of countless common debilitating ailments. So much suffering could be spared by bringing awareness, diagnosis and treatment to the forefront.

My vote might not count for the Oscars, but Under Our Skin gets my vote for Best Documentary

I have not seen the film, but am curious. It may be a compelling piece of filmmaking, but from what I've read about it, it seems to be propagating a lot of misinformation and trading on mistrust of the medical system (echoed in the blurb above: "epidemic of Lyme disease who go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of corruption in the healthcare biz"). The entity of "chronic Lyme disease", which is at issue here, has never been proven to exist in rigorous scientific studies. The field of "chronic Lyme disease" care is largely the province of charlatans. I would like to see a rational discussion of this topic. Taking these patients, who are clearly suffering with something, and labeling them with a bogus diagnosis does them no favor in my opinion.



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