OddDuck, I don't want you to think I am just chasing you around the threads trying to argue with you...even though it may appear that way!
But I wanted to respond to this and I think these issues are important.
I don't know if it is true that the antibiotic research "isn't panning out", I think it is more accurate to say that they are still doing trials, and there has been some difficulty with recruiting patients and so forth, especially in light of what is considered relatively effective therapy, that of the ABCR drugs.
I had contacted Vanderbilt a while back and they had said that if I was interested in being in an antibiotic trial, that was a possibility, and the protocol would likely include an LP to look for cPN. It was going to be funded by the NIH and was starting sometime next year. So I don't think it is a matter of "not panning out" but just that further research needs to be done.
If anyone on-line is confirmed clinically definite MS and interested in participating in a trial next year, especially if you live in the TN area, I would encourage you to contact Vanderbilt. They were very courteous. It was, though, a placebo-controlled trial.
As far as off-label prescribing, I think the information you are passing on is incorrect- the Neurontin fiasco was about the PROMOTION of Neurontin for off-label uses, which IS regulated by the FDA. But it had nothing to do with the legal right of doctors to prescribe it if they thought it was clinically warranted.
To my knowledge the FDA has no authority allowing them to tell medical doctors what they can and cannot prescribe; if you are a medical doctor, you can prescribe whatever you want. I can tell you that in a few speciality fields where I have worked, they have definitely thrown anything they wanted to at certain diseases, and not just for "symptomatic relief".
When I told my GP I had suspected MS he offered to prescribe me a statin when the diagnosis was confirmed, based on the studies he had read- obviously that's an off-label use that is not for purely symptomatic relief, but for treatment of the underlying disease.
Now HMOs DO regulate what doctors can prescribe in their own way. And many doctors are worried about liability and thus wouldn't prescribe antibiotics, fearing that they'd be dragged into court after an iatrogenic injury and they'd have to explain to the jury that they prescribed them after reading some material on the Internet. And indeed that would be a difficult case to make to a jury.
However, if there some peer-reviewed scientific journal articles out there- even a couple- I think you would see doctors who were willing to prescribe antibiotics. I was encouraged to hear that Dr. Wheldon is working on this very issue right now. With a succesful trial or two, especially NIH funded, I think all of us would have an easier time with our doctors and this (now) outside-of-the-box antibiotic treatment.
But for now, the situation is that the doctors are legally allowed to prescribe us antibiotics, but choose not to, largely because of liability issues, I suspect (and as you said, as well).