Industry body slams ‘misguided’ article on complementary medicines

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Complementary medicines Medicine

A recent editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia that attempted to dismiss the benefits of complementary medicines was “misguided”, according to the industry’s representative body.

The article, titled “Pharmacists selling CAM doesn’t wash​”, completely failed to acknowledge the growing body of research that supports natural nutrition, said Carl Gibson, chief executive of Complementary Medicines Australia.

In it, author Jane McCredie claimed that few complementary and alternative medicines were able to “provide quality evidence of efficacy​”.

CAM practitioners are fond of blaming the poor performance of their treatments in trials on what they consider to be inappropriate methodologies: randomised controlled trials just don’t suit their kind of practice they often claim​,” McCredie wrote.

She also questioned the ethics of healthcare professionals who promote “products of, at best, doubtful efficacy​”.

Responding to the article, Gibson said: “With two out of three people using complementary medicines, it will be a huge shame for Australian consumers if this type of one-sided approach influences the recognition of the very real contribution that complementary medicines can make to health, wellness and people-centred healthcare through appropriate integration into health systems.”

He said that recent reports have indicated that selected complementary medicines are both highly efficacious and cost effective, especially in the prevention and management of chronic conditions. 

Among these, he said, a 2014 Frost & Sullivan report showed robust links between several of the more well-known complementary medicines with reduced risk of a secondary disease event among high-risk groups, and with major potential healthcare cost savings.

[McCredie’s] approach negates the ability of health professionals to participate in putting the patient at the centre of care by declaring that the use of an entire practice of health management is ‘unethical’​,” he added. 

If it shows anything at all, the editorial highlights the fact that some fringe practitioners fall short of the cohesive and integrative approach that will ultimately allow consumers to access complementary medicines in an effective, safe and respectful manner​.”

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