Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Congratulations, we're doing better than the UK. Edit: More added

About bloody time too:

Tougher complementary medicine rules would 'protect consumers'. (ABC News Online)

What a beautifully uninformed and misleading statement that article contains: "New research indicates that some top-selling alternative drugs that claim to treat arthritis and help weight loss are ineffective."

Yes, they are. Repeat after me: Complementary medicines aren't effective, that's why they're complementary and not mainstream. The best that can be said is that, in cases like St John's Wort, they're not ineffective if you only have mild problems, and the worst that can be said is that, in cases like St John's Wort, they're hideously dangerous if actually used to "complement" prescription medications.

Later in the day, the ABC added this:

New Controls Considered for Complementary Medicines.

Which is actually a reasonable story. But I still have major reservations about this comment from a spokesman for Choice magazine:

"There is no reason why complementary medicines should not be treated with the same, if not similar, scrutiny as other pharmaceuticals and something else we would like to see is that those medicines who do not choose this opting system with a green tick, have some sort of label on their packaging which says this medicine has not been evaluated by health authorities for efficacy," he said.

Actually, there is every reason why they should, including the fact that any substance which claims to be bioactive needs to be evaluated for safety, and consumer protection laws. But what is this about a green tick? "Not evaluted ... for efficacy"? How many are evaluated for efficacy? And do health authorities evaluate for efficacy or just safety? (I'm actual unsure about that one, please enlighten me). I'm more concerned about evaluation for safety first, and efficacy second and, you know, if Pfizer decide that they can make money from refining echinacea extract they're certain to be able to get some sort of patent. They've got clever lawyers.

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