CALGARY — Hes just 49 years old and already his mobility is mostly confined to his right hand. If Chad Tashlikowich can halt the progression of his primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) there, hell consider it a victory.
In 2014 Tashlikowich crowd-funded an $80,000 stem cell treatment in Russia hoping to keep him out of an electric wheel chair. That therapy was unsuccessful.
It really hasnt changed the trajectory at all, he says. Despite the risks and expense, his health didnt improve. Its really poor. Its kind of gone downhill really ever since. I dont think the stem cells did a lot,
Now he wants to try a drug treatment ocrevus recommended to him by an American physician, Dr. Aaron Boster, who specializes in MS, a disease that attacks the central nervous system.
The problem is, in Canada the drug is not approved for use on patients with Tashlikowichs form of the disease.
You have a mechanic for your car. And if he doesnt do a good job you get another one. You cant do that with a neurologist, Tashlikowich says.
Dr. Luann Metz is a neurology professor at the University of Calgary. She says she understands how MS patients can see some of these therapies as worth the expense and the risk, given their dire prognoses. But Metz cautions that not all foreign treatment is what its advertised to be, and even when it is, there are medical reasons why guidelines are what they are in Canada.
The problem is, that when people go outside the country for unapproved therapies, they are often not in regulated situations, says Dr. Metz, adding that stem cell therapy in particular has shown to sometimes worsen outcomes in primary-progressive MS patients.