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Various concerns regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the UK.
A close look at 'alternative' medicine
Noteworthy CAM articles and reports
"The expectation of the NHS to provide CAMs is increasing at a time when demand for all services is at budgetary breaking point." Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care, Cancer Nursing Practice (October 2004) [pdf slow download]
"If millions are using alternatives, we need to know what works and where risks exist…Consumers need to know which treatment they can trust, and researchers must supply the evidence for well-informed decisions." Edzard Ernst, The Guardian (14th September 2004)
Personal view of Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities, University College London. British Medical Journal (10th July 2004)
Medical Care Research Unit, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield. (June 2004)
"The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health advocates as its primary aim the adoption of complementary therapies into routine healthcare………But few people question the principle of integration. Should we not first make sure that these therapies are safe and effective? The NHS might end up paying dearly for treatments that are not worth their money. So let's do the science first and the integration next — it's what we call 'evidence-based medicine'". Article by Professor Edzard Ernst, The Guardian (2nd March 2004)
"The House of Lords report and the Government's response to it pointed out that the first step was to find out whether the complementary treatment worked (better than a placebo)….The problem is that you cannot regulate properly an area when it is not, in most cases, known whether the product being offered has no effect above that of wishful thinking." David Colquhoun, Research Professor of Pharmacology, University College London in a letter to The Times (14th January 2004)
"A comprehensive study of more than 4,500 therapists offering a range of complementary therapies found a large number not taking medical histories from their patients and failing to stop treatments that don't work. Most did not contact family doctors as a matter of course when treating a patient, while many others did not keep up with the latest developments in their field." Times Online (10th January 2004)
"It is dangerous to accept diluted standards of proof for implausible phenomena. The controlled experiment has built the great majority of our scientific knowledge, yet there are eminent people who are advocating that we largely abandon it in favour of special methods for testing ideas which have no scientific basis." By Les Rose, consultant clinical scientist and medical writer. (Article orginally published in Clinical Research Focus) [pdf] (2004)
Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies (FACT) news release. (18th December 2003)
This article outlines the recommendations of the 6th Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology (2000) on CAM research, together with the UK government response and contrasts it with the research that has been recently funded. It also contains invited commentaries from John Garrow, Sheila Glenn, Paul Wilson, Jos Kleijnen, John Walton and David Colquhoun. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] (December 2003)
Professor Edzard Ernst's view that the premature integration of complementary medicine, though heavily promoted, is short-sighted and, in the long run, could harm the public. The Daily Telegraph (10th September 2003)
The rising popularity of complementary and alternative medicine has led insurers "to exploit the lack of holistic therapies in the NHS to encourage new subscribers…" Financial Times (24th June 1999) [Reported by FACT]