An SNP MP has led a debate on a controversial medical trial into treatments of ME which was partly funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, described as ‘one of the biggest medical scandals of the 21st century’.
Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, led the debate on the PACE trial and its impact on people living with ME on 20 February.
The PACE trial considered how interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) benefited people suffering from ME, concluding that these could even result in full recovery. These guidelines are currently under review by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The trial has been heavily criticised and discredited by the research community, who have called it “deeply flawed” and a “textbook example of a poorly done trial”. It has transpired that, alongside partial funding from the DWP, key investigators have had longstanding relationships with major insurance companies and the DWP – who used the results of the trial to sanction people suffering from ME.
During the debate, Monaghan recommended that the next set of guidelines offered to medical practitioners are drawn up through listening to people living with ME, that specialised ME treatment no longer suggests GET as a method of recovery, and that proper funding for ME research is supported.
Commenting following the debate, Carol Monaghan MP said:
“I’m pleased to have led this debate on the PACE Trial and its impact on people with ME.
“At the moment, there is a woeful lack of quality medical research into ME. If things are to improve, it is important that the causes, diagnosis and treatment are fully investigated.
“It’s a positive step that NICE are now reviewing their recommendation of harmful exercise – however, their new guidelines are not expected until October 2020. There remains a huge need for education amongst the public and medical practitioners alike on the reality of living with ME, its diagnosis and treatment. These guidelines must be drawn up through listening to people living with ME.
“As I have said, I hope this debate is only the starting point and that the PACE trial will subject to wider debate in the House of Commons.