Who is behind the sleep apnea study for truck drivers in Canada?

By David Tanner, senior editor

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is conducting a study to collect data and analyze the prevalence and severity of sleep apnea in the Canadian trucking industry. The institute’s partner, a company called BresoTec, is providing the home sleep-testing equipment for the estimated 1,000 participants they hope to attract for the study.

A glance into BresoTec’s role in the study, and the products it manufactures and markets, reveals much about an entire sleep-testing and treatment industry that is standing by to gain from any possible government requirement.

BresoTec is supplying a product called BresoDx for the study participants. The company describes it as a proprietary sleep-testing device that helps determine the prevalence and severity of apnea. The company claims its device is an alternative to expensive and time-consuming sleep testing in a laboratory.

Interestingly, the company’s website address, bresotec.com, automatically redirects to another home-diagnostic product called the ApneaDx, manufactured by a company called iDapt Somno.

Perhaps even more interesting, however, is that the iDapt Somno was developed by a team of scientists and engineers that include Dr. Geoff Fernie, a biomedical and mechanical engineer who also happens to be institute director at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

BresoTec and iDapt Somno come right out and say in their company information that there is a “need” to test truck drivers for apnea, claiming that apnea and other sleep disorders are factors in a high number of motor vehicle crashes. The companies use the word “problem” out of the gate to describe sleep apnea in the trucking industry while also saying the study will remain objective.

“Currently there is no reliable scientific research providing evidence on the scope of the problem of sleep apnea in the Canadian trucking industry,” the companies state online.

BresTec and iDapt Somno say they are concerned about Canadian “compliance” with U.S. rules on apnea testing and treatment, even though such rules do not exist at this time.

“There is growing concern that in the near future, the U.S.-Canada border may be closed to Canadian truck drivers without proof of proper screening and compliance with treatment of sleep apnea. Similar domestic regulations may also be implemented in Canada,” they stated.

What is the goal of the study? According to BresTec and iDapt Somno, “The main aim of the study is ultimately to protect truck drivers’ health and safety. Partnering with the trucking and insurance industries, this study will reform and improve Canadian road safety.”

The companies cite research on their website that claims obstructive sleep apnea, OSA, presents a 15-fold “risk” for motor vehicle crashes.

With these statements in plain view, the companies still claim that the study of truckers for apnea will be objective.

“Results from this objective study would then be evaluated to determine the severity of sleep apnea in the industry and subsequent actions trucking companies may want to take to improve the quality of lives of truck drivers and road safety of their fleets,” the companies state.

OOIDA objects to claims made about apnea, CMV operation and crashes that medical firms and sleep-testing companies use to push for regulations.

“Truck drivers are again being viewed as an ATM by the sleep study and sleep apnea treatment industry,” OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth told Land Line.

“OOIDA already has ample experience with egregious abuse of sleep apnea testing upon drivers,” he said.

“When the companies that are partnering in this supposedly unbiased research effort cite a study that claims a ‘15-fold higher risk of motor vehicle accidents compared to controls in patients with severe sleep apnea,’ it is hard to have faith that effort is anything more than a money grab. Stating such dramatic numbers without connecting them to actual accidents, but rather only the ‘risk’ of an accident is not helpful.” LL

Land Line Magazine Staff Writer Tyson Fisher contributed to this report.