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The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) wants the Bush Administration to disclaim and reject the final report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine ("CAM") Policy, because the Commission has failed in its mission. Its final report does not appropriately assess "CAM" methods, lacks objectivity, and was principally the opinions of Commission leaders who revised it without most of the members ever seeing the final edition. The report is an unqualified endorsement of so-called "CAM," a "New-Age" marketing term which falsely proposes that untested and unscientific methods of care are equivalent to evidence-based medical practices. The final WCCAMP report is so biased that two of the Commissioners—Tiarona Low Dog, M.D., and Joseph Fins, M.D. have issued a dissenting statement. Their protest, attached to the main report, charges that:
The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP) was established two years ago during the Clinton Administration to make recommendations "assuring that public policy maximizes the benefits to Americans of complementary and alternative medicine." Despite nearly two years of work, the Commission failed to conduct basic, reasonable activities such as such as defining the term "CAM" and justifying the inclusion or exclusion of various methods within its scope. Without this foundation, the Commission could not appropriately assess any areas for "benefit" as prescribed in its charter.
NCAHF has examined the background and credentials of WHCCAMP's members. Most are philosophically aligned with the so-called "CAM" movement, and many have an economic interest in this area. Its members were selected because they were perceived as staunch "CAM" advocates who could be counted upon to produce a one-sided report. No outspoken critics were included. Two independent appraisals of the members of the Commission appear at http://www.no-whccamp.org/.
The Commission's final report recommends across-the-board "integration" of "CAM" into government health agencies and the nation's medical, medical education, and insurance systems. Without supporting evidence, the Commission falsely assumes and states that "CAM" is cost-effective. Established literature shows it is not. It further recommends that "CAM" methods be integrated into every aspect of our educational and health-care delivery systems, once again without any logical rationale. Additionally, its report does not identify a single "CAM" practice that should be considered improper. A paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the recommendations of the Commission is posted to Quackwatch.
The Commission advocates spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to promote unscientific beliefs that include treating cancer with herbal teas and coffee enemas, and manipulating supernatural forces to treat serious illnesses. The report blindly advocates that anything marketed as "CAM" should be taught in medical schools, included in health plans, and widely incorporated into government policies.
Such recommendations are a perversion of the trust placed in presidential commissions, an affront to medical science, and an assault on consumer protection. Without science-based safeguards, any scam artist with a far-fetched idea can open for business and bilk the public. The proper place for unproven and untested methods is in laboratories and clinical research studies, not in a large-scale unscientific, unsupervised experiment upon the American people. Any method that is plausible should be tested with well-designed clinical trials. The rest should be discarded. No health care method should be marketed, promulgated, or taught without proof that it is safe and effective.
Instead of seizing an opportunity to critically examine "CAM" theories and practices and making a rational and reasoned report to the President, the Commission blindly advocates policies that are illogical and economically senseless. The value of any possible therapies that may have emerged from careful review and testing has been lost in a tidal wave of enthusiasm for anything merely bearing the label of "CAM."
NCAHF strongly suggests that the Commission's recommendations be rejected and repudiated by President Bush and members of Congress for the reasons elaborated above. Widespread adoption of unproven, disproven, and irrational methods will cost the American public billions of dollars and thousands of human lives. Medical ethics dictate that before any medical practices are adopted or spread. studies done with scientific methodology, and adequate protections for humans must demonstrate their validity. Doing less would be a danger to the public and would remove safeguards that have evolved over centuries in the practice of rational and caring medicine.
The National Council Against Health Fraud is a consumer advocacy group founded more than twenty years ago to promote reliable health information.
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