Discover how leading doctors and scientists in the CAM field, coordinated by the ANH and British Soc for Ecological Medicine, are responding to Professor Baum and colleagues' attack on alternative medicine yesterday.
ANH PRESS RELEASE 24 May 2006
LEADING DOCTORS RETALIATE AGAINST ATTACK ON ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Leading doctors and scientists brought together by the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) and the British Society for Ecological Medicine (BSEM) are coordinating a potent rebuttal to the latest attack against complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by a high profile faction of the orthodox medical profession.
Professor Michael Baum, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University College London, and 12 other doctors and scientists published an open letter in The Times newspaper on 23 May which was circulated to all 476 NHS Trusts. The letter amounted to a stinging attack on natural medicine. The authors, including ironically Edzard Ernst, self-styled incorrectly as “the UK's only professor of complementary medicine”, condemned alternative therapies as "unproven or disproved treatments" and said that their increased adoption by the NHS was displacing patient access to drugs.
The Alliance for Natural Health's Executive and Scientific Director, Dr Robert Verkerk, said today, “It is unfortunate that Professor Baum and colleagues fail to recognise the wide range of so-called complementary or alternative medicine – or CAM - practices which are clearly scientifically or clinically proven. Judicious adoption of particular therapies into mainstream medicine would help increase the efficiency and safety of medical practice, as well as reduce overall costs. These are inevitably important concerns for the NHS.”
Dr Damien Downing, President of the British Society for Ecological Medicine and ANH's Medical Director, has drafted a rebuttal to Professor Baum's letter which has been circulated early this morning to 18 leading professors, doctors and scientists actively engaged with CAM for input and a request for each to act as signatory.
Dr Verkerk appeared on Sky TV News last night to express deep concerns over Professor Baum's assertions. Responding to him was Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Professor Lakhani reinforced the fact that CAM was popular with many patients and that some doctors promote and practice it. He argued that it was important to have a balance of benefits between drug-based and complementary therapies and that sometimes life-saving technologies such as pace-makers and cancer drugs could not be supplied to patients in need due to budgetary constraints in the NHS.
During the Sky News interview, Dr Verkerk explained that double-blind, placebo controlled trial designs, regarded in orthodox medicine as the gold standard by which to assess efficacy, were not always applicable to CAM modalities. It is of paramount importance, stressed Dr Verkerk, that the clinical evidence base, which in some cases is thousands of years old, is amply considered.
Verkerk concluded the interview by reminding viewers that orthodox medicine was far from safe and had been shown to be the third leading cause of death in the USA.
CONTACT for further information:
For Dr Damien Downing and Dr Robert Verkerk, please contact:
Meleni Aldridge Development Manager Alliance for Natural Health Tel: +44 (0)1306 646 550 Mob: +44 (0)7771 750 230 Email: [email protected]
2. In an interview with the British Medical Journal, Professor Edzard Ernst, signatory to Professor Baum's letter, said:
"Our family doctor in the little village outside Munich where I grew up was a homoeopath. My mother swore by it. As a kid I was treated homoeopathically. So this kind of medicine just came naturally. Even during my studies I pursued other things like massage therapy and acupuncture." The history of non-orthodox medicine in continental Europe is unlike that in the United Kingdom, where the creation of the NHS excluded most of its techniques. In countries like Germany it seems to face much less conflict with science. "As a young doctor I had an appointment in a homoeopathic hospital, and I was very impressed with its success rate. My boss told me that much of this success came from discontinuing mainstream medication. This made a big impression on me."
Source: studentBMJ 2004;12:1-44 February ISSN 0966-6494 (http://www.studentbmj.com/issues/04/01/careers/25.php).
3. The British Society for Ecological Medicine is the professional body for medical doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals in the areas of allergy, environmental and nutritional medicine. See www.ecomed.org.uk.
4. The Alliance for Natural Health is a key UK-based, international campaign organisation, comprised of doctors, scientists, practitioners, lawyers, innovative companies and consumers, dedicated to protecting and promoting natural healthcare worldwide through the use of ‘good science and good law'. See www.anhcampaign.org.