White House Commission’s Recommendation to Increase Federal Spending on Alternative Medicine Criticized
A report released last week recommending that the federal government spend more money on alternative therapies has come "under attack," the Washington Post reports (Packer-Tursman, Washington Post, 3/19). The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine last week sent HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson its recommendation that the Bush administration consider expanding federal funding of alternative therapies and creating a national office to study such treatments. The commission, established by former President Bill Clinton, spent two years and $2 million devising a national policy on alternative treatments (California Healthline, 3/18). According to an unidentified source, on the day the report was sent to Thompson, two members of the commission filed a separate view. The Post reports that the two members objected to the panel's failure to acknowledge "the limitations of unproven" alternative therapies, to set "research priorities" and to define which alternative therapies "lack scientific credibility" and are "demonstrably unsafe." The two also criticized the panel for including spirituality as an alternative therapy. Another commission member, Dr. Dean Ornish, said he "had some reservations" about the report and considered filing his own view. However, Ornish said he "stayed with the majority" after commission chair James Gordon and Stephen Groft, the commission's executive director, "incorporated each and every one" of his concerns into the report's introduction. Ornish said the same invitation was extended to the two commission members who criticized the report. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist and author of the "Quackwatch" Web site, also criticized the report. Barrett said he wants the Bush administration to reject the report because it "would promote unscientific practices and waste countless millions of taxpayer dollars." Gordon said, "I would say (critics) should read the report and comment on the report. ... This is about science. This is about dialogues." HHS spokesperson Bill Hall said the department "will consider the panel's suggestions" (Washington Post, 3/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.