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Alternative medicine—if it worked, it would just be medicine
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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 9585

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:42 am    Post subject: Alternative medicine—if it worked, it would just be medicine Reply with quote

STORY ONE: two point five billion dollars spent indiscriminately on researching very dumb things that are not true and should not have even been considered credible enough for pilot tests.

Quote:
Ten years ago the government set out to test herbal and other alternative health remedies to find the ones that work. After spending $2.5 billion, the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.

Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.


Quote:
"You expect scientific thinking" at a federal science agency, said R. Barker Bausell, author of "Snake Oil Science" and a research methods expert at the University of Maryland, one of the agency's top-funded research sites. "It's become politically correct to investigate nonsense."

Many scientists say that unconventional treatments hold promise and deserve serious study, but that the federal center needs to be more skeptical and selective.

"There's not all the money in the world and you have to choose" what most deserves tax support, said Barrie Cassileth, integrative medicine chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

"Many of the studies that have been funded I would not have funded because they seem irrational and foolish — studies on distant healing by prayer and energy healing, studies that are based on precepts and ideas that are contrary to what is known in terms of human physiology and disease," she said.


Quote:
[C]ritics say that unlike private companies that face bottom-line pressure to abandon a drug that flops, the federal center is reluctant to admit a supplement may lack merit — despite a strategic plan pledging not to equivocate in the face of negative findings.

Echinacea is an example. After a large study by a top virologist found it didn't help colds, its fans said the wrong one of the plant's nine species had been tested. Federal officials agreed that more research was needed, even though they had approved the type used in the study.

"There's been a deliberate policy of never saying something doesn't work. It's as though you can only speak in one direction," and say a different version or dose might give different results, said Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired physician who runs Quackwatch, a web site on medical scams.

Critics also say the federal center's research agenda is shaped by an advisory board loaded with alternative medicine practitioners. They account for at least nine of the board's 18 members, as required by its government charter. Many studies they approve for funding are done by alternative therapy providers; grants have gone to board members, too.

"It's the fox guarding the chicken coop," said Dr. Joseph Jacobs, who headed the Office of Alternative Medicine, a smaller federal agency that preceded the center's creation. "This is not science, it's ideology on the part of the advocates."


Quote:
ongress created it after several powerful members claimed health benefits from their own use of alternative medicine and persuaded others that this enormously popular field needed more study. The new center was given $50 million in 1999 (its budget was $122 million last year) and ordered to research unconventional therapies and nostrums that Americans were using to see which ones had merit.

That is opposite how other National Institutes of Health agencies work, where scientific evidence or at least plausibility is required to justify studies, and treatments go into wide use after there is evidence they work — not before.

"There's very little basic science behind these things. Most of it begins with a tradition, or personal testimony and people's beliefs, even as a fad. And then pressure comes: 'It's being popular, it's being used, it should be studied.' It turns things upside down," said Dr. Edward Campion, a senior editor who reviews alternative medicine research submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine.

That reasoning was used to justify the $2 million weight-loss study, approved in 2007. It will test Tapas acupressure, devised by Tapas Fleming, a California acupuncturist. Use of her trademarked method requires employing people she certifies, and the study needs eight.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31190909/ns/health-alternative_medicine//

STORY TWO: Zicam is this stuff that was sold in supermarkets and drugstores as a 'cold remedy' you snort up your nose, and it contained zinc and has caused at least a hundred and thirty people to lose their sense of smell permanently, which apparently can sort of happen when you snort zinc. Under nearly any scenario, this product would never have been allowable on shelves, but by classifying it as a 'homeopathic remedy,' Zicam's manufacturer could confer upon it a unique legal status wherein it can be sold as a 'drug' to treat an ailment, and won't get routinely reviewed for safety or benefit by the FDA.

Quote:
Zicam belongs to an under-the-radar but legal sector of the drug industry called homeopathic remedies. They hold a unique legal status: They are mainly sold without prescription as legal drugs claiming to treat specific ailments, yet they are not routinely reviewed for safety or benefit by the FDA. The agency rarely acts unless safety questions arise after marketing.

Most scientists say homeopathic remedies contain active ingredients in such low concentrations — often 1 part per million or less — that they are usually safe.

But FDA spokesman Sandy Walsh says that "consumers purchasing homeopathic products should be aware that they have not been reviewed by the FDA."

Zicam's maker, Matrixx Initiatives, of Scottsdale, Ariz., contends Zicam is safe. It blames the apparent side effects on the colds and infections that people were treating, not on the treatment. However, the company agreed to suspend shipments and reimburse customers who want refunds.

It already agreed to settle about 340 Zicam claims for $12 million in 2006. It was still dealing with 17 lawsuits earlier this year, as well as more than 500 more patients who may sue in the future, according to its filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Richardson, 46, says he used Zicam just once. His mother, a retired nurse, offered him some for his stuffy nose. He had just started a new job as a salesman and wanted to work at his best.

So he held the nasal gel to his nose, pumped and inhaled. He immediately felt a burning sensation but acknowledges that his sense of smell was already diminished by the cold. It was only when health returned — but not sense of smell — that he began to worry.


Quote:
The FDA said Zicam Cold Remedy was never formally approved because it is part of a small group of remedies that are not required to undergo federal review before launching. Known as homeopathic products, the formulations often contain herbs, minerals and flowers.

A warning letter issued to Matrixx on Tuesday asked the company to stop marketing its zinc-based products, but the agency did not issue a formal recall. Instead, regulators said Matrixx would have to submit safety and effectiveness data on the drug.

“The next step, if they wish to continue marketing Zicam intranasal zinc products, is for them is for them to come in and seek FDA approval,” said Deborah Autor, director of FDA’s drug compliance division.

The agency is requiring formal approval now because of the product’s safety issues, she added.

The global market for homeopathic drugs is about $200 million per year, according to the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists. The group’s members include companies like Nutraceutical International Corp. and Natural Health Supply.

Matrixx has settled hundreds of lawsuits connected with Zicam in recent years, but says on its Web site: “No plaintiff has ever won a court case, because there is no known causal link between the use of Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and impairment of smell.”

The company said in a statement Tuesday that the Zicam Cold Remedy’s safety is “supported by the cumulative science and has been confirmed by a multidisciplinary panel of scientists.”

But government scientists say they are unaware of any data to support Zicam’s labeling, which claims the drug reduces cold symptoms, including “sore throat, stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, congestion.”

Matrixx said it will consider withdrawing the products, which accounted for about 40 percent of its $111.6 million in sales last year.


STORY THREE: Related to the boffo fact that homeopathic remedies are a two hundred gazillion dollar industry or whatever, this is immensely frustrating because homeopathy is a frightfully stupid thing and it does not work and you should never, ever support it or trust in the idea that it works at all ever.
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

there are idiots. amen.

so none should try? i fear that's a take that those who cry about the epa and their damned endangered-species fetish will cherish.




at least, let's also bag the ones that claim their investment in palliative developments needs to be paid back, 50-fold or so. them and their immoral off-label trademark extensions.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried some homeopathic remedy which name I no longer recall, to treat an ailment that I also no longer recall, that within 3 days gave me the worst case of flu-like symptoms I have ever had, plus a gastro reaction. It was horrific.
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and, yet, that does not mean that nature is made up of pure charlatan.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Major Tom wrote:
and, yet, that does not mean that nature is made up of pure charlatan.

didn't say it was ... or even imply it ...
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Major Tom



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ok.

just figgered i'd put my two cents in there before sam added your anecdote to his blacklist.
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:01 am    Post subject: google medicine that strengthens the placebo effect for fun Reply with quote

BAM
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Sam the Eagle



Joined: 02 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That link just made my day Razz
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assume Sam is logical enough to realize that anecdotes don't and shouldn't hold any real power in a discussion of experimental methodology. Anecdotal evidence is what gets people to endorse alternative treatments to begin with.

Homeopathics, herbs, minerals - these CAMs - ought to be rigorously tested by their manufacturers prior to being sold, just like any other drug. It's ridiculous that they can sell a substance, make medical claims about it, and are protected by saying these claims have not been tested by the FDA. I support the use of natural medicine - it's all just chemistry, and if it works, good. Herbs are generally cheap. However, permitting the sale of products that claim to help people which do nothing ought to be illegal. All it does is take money from people who may have a legitimate medical issue and offer them nothing in return.

It's also worth noting that some alternative therapies are supported by clinical studies - melatonin and alpha lipoic acid are two I can think of off the top of my head.
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Major Tom



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it is a list

i guess it's an awesome of things that don't work.

it's aces to know what does not work. it would be more aces to have an awesome list of things that work.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That would be the point of having manufacturers perform efficacy and safety studies prior to allowing the sale of any product used as a treatment for a medical disorder. To the extent that we can trust pharmaceutical companies now (which is not at all), it would allow us to pick treatments with the relative assurance that we're at least not throwing our money away.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wings?
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was never a fan, although I liked Tony Shaloub and that guy who played Lloyd.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yorick wrote:
wings?

No, THINGS that work. Not wings. Get used to it, penguin-boy.
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Amilam



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really care what kinds of twigs and berries people invest their own money in. However, it does infuriate me that the government is wasting any amount of money researching the validity of homeopathic remedies, let alone 2.5 billion dollars.
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