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The National Council Against Health Fraud, Inc. (NCAHF) has concluded that policies prescribed in the report issued this week by the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP) would lead to widespread adoption of unproven, disproven, and irrational methods and would cost the American public billions of dollars and thousands of human lives.
After two years of study the Commission provided a blueprint for a costly bureaucracy to promote "CAM" (a marketing term for complementary and alternative medicine), which it failed to define and which functions as a marketing term for quackery. CAM would be integrated in all federal programs, medical schools, and the entire educational system of the USA. James Gordon, WHCCAMP's chair, maintains that the US government should create a special office for CAM that would ensure that it is spread widely.
The WHCAMP Report is vague, long, unfocused, and rambling. The Commission's failure to critically analyze CAM reflects the zealotry of its chair and many of its members. Two Commissioners, Joseph Fins and Tierona Low Dog, issued a clear and concise dissent that was buried in the report as Appendix G. The Report was apparently modified at the last minute by Gordon to try to blunt some of the impact of the dissent. The modifications were made without review by the Commission.
NCAHF has issued a position statement and has posted a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis as well as links to additional information about WHCCAMP and its members.
Gordon's advocacy of reshaping medicine to include numerous CAM practices without regard to their scientific defensibility appears to be the major weakness and cause of the failure of the Commission. Gordon had a strong role in the selection of the Commissioners, its charge, activities and agenda. On why the Commission didn't find any forms of CAM lacking, Gordon replied that that was not the job of the Commission. He was quoted on National Public Radio All Things Considered as saying that there are thousands of therapies, and that studying each to find out which ones work and which ones don't is a major project. He calls for more funds to be spent on this endeavor-without regard to which methods even make sense. Commissioner Fins replied that "Science doesn't work that way."
Given limited resources to improve health care in our society, diversion of federal spending to study illogical and ill-conceived ideas makes no sense. Many CAM practices and methods are illogical, unsafe, and never likely to be effective, a point made in the dissent by Commissioners Fins and Low Dog. The pathway for funding research has always been based on testing viable hypotheses, not all hypotheses, whether viable or not.
Following the Commission recommendations, anyone could create a "new" therapy, whether it be catching moonbeams or adding spices to coffee enemas and call it CAM. Gordon's plan would create a perpetual motion machine for funding research on such nonsense. For ethical reasons, most CAM therapies cannot be used in human subject research since such studies fail to meet the requirements of the Belmont Report, the template under which human research must be done in the USA. By Gordon's own statements CAM cannot be studied validly as one cannot satisfy the requirements of the Belmont Report regarding the nature, scope and assessment of risks and benefits.
The WHCCAMP Report is carefully contrived to suggest that CAM is close to the mainstream and that its critics are on the fringe. The opposite is true. The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) promotes reliable information backed by experimentally derived data on safety and effectiveness. It studies issues and generates reports so that individuals can make informed rational choices. The WHCCAMP represents quackery.
The National Council Against Health Fraud recommends that the Commission's findings and plans be viewed as unsupported, and considered accordingly. The recommendations go far beyond any data or findings of the Commission, and also go beyond reason and rationality.
The National Council Against Health Fraud is a consumer advocacy group founded more than twenty years ago to promote reliable health information.