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CULLINGNONSCIENCEFROMSCARCEMEDICALRESOURCES Authors:EugenieMielczarek,Ph.D.,andBrianEngler

Drivenbyurbanlegendsandculturalmythology,Americansarereportedlyspending$34billionannually onalternativemedicineprotocolsandproducts.WhenCongressallocated$2millionforaNationalInstitutesof Health(NIH)OfficeofAlternativeMedicinein1992,itcouldnothavepredictedthatin2011,theNIHwouldbe fundingthemarketingofdistancehealing,orthatAmericanswouldbepayingfordeliveryofalternative medicinethroughafederallyapprovedhealthcarebill.In1999theOfficeofAlternativeMedicineevolvedintoa fullNIHcenter,theNationalCenterforComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine(NCCAM),whoseannual budgetnowamountsto$134million.LocatingtheofficeatNIHimpliedastrategyofscientificallystudyingthe medicallegitimacyofagrowingunregulatedindustry. Butafternearlytwentyyears,$2billionoffunding,overonethousandawards,andhundredsofclinical trials,itisobviousthemandateisflawed.Thesuccessofthisuseofscarcemedicalresourceswasmeasuredby examiningallawardsbyNCCAM,whichwereavailableandstudyingdetailsofallawardsfrom20002011.The costoftheseawardscameto$1.3billion.Thisstudyfoundnodiscoveriesinalternativemedicinethatwould justifythecurrentannualexpenditureof$134milliontomaintaintheexistenceofthiscenter. Thisstudydidrevealsomestartlingconceptsinmedicalthinking.Table1listsfundsexpendedforeight ofthemostdisquietingproposalsformedicalprotocols. EightexamplesofstartlingconceptsfundedbyNCCAM PROTOCOL FUNDING MaharishiVedicMedicine $0.4million magneticfields $2million mushroomextract $3million distancehealing* $22million soy $54million botanicals $72million acupuncture $78million mindbody $157million *Reiki,Qigong,TherapeuticTouch,andprayer TheawardsforReikiincludedmorethanaquarterofamilliondollarstodeterminewhetherwavinghandsover fattyrabbitswilldecreasetheircholesterol.Didit?Almosttenyearslater,westilldon'tknow.Themagnet awards­forcarpeltunnelsyndrome,arthritisandmigraine­weremadeaftertheFederalTradeCommission (FTC)in1999forcedpurveyorsofmagnetstoceaseadvertisingclaimsforhealth.DidtheAmericantaxpayer reallyneedtospendmillionstolearnthatGingkoBilobadoesnotworkforAlzheimer'sordementia,orthat lemonandlavenderoilsdonotaffectimmunologicalresponses?Congressshouldaskwhythefederal governmentisfundingstudiesforbotanicals.Researchhousedindrugcompanies,whichemployarangeof trainedscientistsandareboundbylegalrestrictionsthatforcethepostingofnegativeresults,wouldbeabetter useofAmericanenterprise.Apaucityofpublishedclinicaltrialsandpeerreviewedresultsleavesthescience communityandthetaxpayerwithoutinformation.Shouldyourwellnesspractitioner,whoismostlikelycovered underthehealthcarebill,useacupunctureormagnetstotreatyourfibromyalgia?Theexampleofcontinued

fundingformagnettherapiesyearsaftertheFTC'sinterventionillustratesamajorflawinthepresentsystem. Nothingseemstodie. Notdeterredbylackofevidenceandignoranceofscience,NCCAMengagesinbothsubliminaland directmarketingforCAM,throughawards($20million)fordevelopmentofCAMcurriculainmedicalschools andtoprivateentrepreneurs.Yetastudyofawardsthatfundtheteachingofalternative(integrativemedicine) inmedicalschools,publishedin2009inAcademicMedicine(Marcus2009),concludedthatthesecurriculafailto meetthegenerallyacceptedstandardsofevidencebasedmedicine. Examplesgivenarejustthetipofaniceberg.Notgenerallyrealizedisthatfundingawardsfor complementaryandalternativemedicine(CAM)isnotlimitedtograntsfromNCCAM.Thegraphbelowshows thatyearlytotalsforCAMfromallNIHcentersandofficesarecurrentlyabout$300million.Roughlyhalfofthis moneywasawardedforNCCAM,buttheotherhalfwasspreadamongstnumerousotherNIHcentersand offices. Thelackofpublicationsinpeerreviewedmedicalorsciencejournals,andthefailuretoreportclinical trialsinscientificmedicaljournals,demonstratesthefailureofthisexpenditureof$2billiondollarsovernearly 20yearstoconfirmcuresbasedonculturalmyths.ProtestsfromtheNationalCouncilagainstHealthFraudand othermedicalscientistshavenotbeenacknowledgedbytheDepartmentofHealthandHumanServices(HHS) oritsoversightcommitteesinCongress.Worse,Congresshasmandatedintothe2011PatientProtectionand AffordableCareActthetaxburdenofpayingforurbanlegendsandcommercialinterests. WestronglyrecommendthattheNationalCenterforComplementaryandAlternativeMedicinebe defundedorabolished,andthatresponsibilityforscientifictestingofconceptsofalternativemedicine (integrativemedicine)beabsorbedintotheadministrativemantleoftheothernineteeninstitutesandinstitutes atNIH.Further,wesuggestthatthecontinuedfundingofCAMconceptsthathavebeenshowntobeineffective beimmediatelydiscontinued.

ThisisapreviewversionofafullreportthatwillappearintheJanuary/FebruaryissueofthemagazineSkeptical Inquirer,publishedbytheCommitteeforSkepticalInquiry. ThisreportwasauthoredbyEugenieV.Mielczarek,emeritusprofessorofphysicsatGeorgeMasonUniversityin Fairfax,VA.Her40yearsofresearchisintheareaofmaterialsscienceandbiologicalphysics.Mielczarekwas assistedbyBrianEngler,aretiredU.S.NavyCommander.Hisfieldsofstudyincludeoperationsresearchand businessadministration Copyright©2011CenterforInquiry,Inc.Permissionisgrantedforthismaterialtobesharedfornoncommercial, educationalpurposes,providedthatthisnoticeappearsonthereproducedmaterials,thefullauthoritative versionisretained,andcopiesarenotaltered.Todisseminateotherwiseortorepublishrequireswritten permissionfromtheCenterforInquiry,Inc.

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Microsoft Word - Policy report.doc