NHMRC to judge alternative medications

NHMRC to judge alternative medications

THE efficacy of complementary medicines and therapies will be put to the test this year in a series of reviews which will make a call on what works and what doesn’t.

National Health and Medical Research Council chief executive Warwick Anderson said panels of experts will review the global research on the efficacy of various alternative treatments. He said the aim is to release reports on individual treatments throughout the year in which the NHMRC will draw conclusions on how effective they are and whether they match claims made about them, including homoeopathy.

“We are looking at a number of these areas, looking at the evidence that has been published so far, and are planning to release those reviews of the research later in the year,” Professor Anderson said.

The NHRMC work will inform the Commonwealth’s ongoing review of the rebate on private health insurance for natural therapies that commenced in 2012.

Complementary and alternative medicines include vitamins, minerals, homoeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as various therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy.

Since 2010, the NHMRC has been attempting to verify claims made about complementary medicines. Its latest 2013-15 strategic plan notes that “within our health system, there are practices which are currently not based on sturdy evidence”.

“Outside our health system and its regulation, many other products and procedures are promoted as beneficial to health, often with little or no evidence of their benefit beyond the placebo effect.

“For these, individuals may normally need no more protection beyond that afforded by usual regulatory processes and access to research evidence about them. However, sometimes patients may be misled into rejecting practices and treatments that are evidence-based,” it said.

 

Source: The Australian

 

Comment: Whilst any approach toward assessing efficacy could be of value, there has to be a question over the terms of reference for what constitutes “evidence”. Our position is that the current acceptance of “evidence” as purported in the establishment remains open to question.

We would also trust that the medical profession itself would be available for a similar “evidence” study, otherwise the professional divisions remain intact.