Archived articles and radio interviews
The articles below have appeared since the beginning of February 2012.
Qi Bono? The US Affordable Care Act, has provisions which are going to be used to pour billions of dollars into quack medicine of every description under the guise of “non-discrimination.”
Administrative Decisions Tribunal New South Wales: Australian Vaccination Network Inc v Department of Finance & Services : Administrative Decisions Tribunal has handed down decision. AVN are forced to change name.
Chinese medicine: Chairman Mao told one of his personal physicians that he didn't believe in Chinese medicine and didn't take it but he did believe it should be promoted to the west who, at the time, had a romantic vision of the mysterious Orient. Are we all the victims of 1950's Chinese propaganda? (Podcast, ABC Counterpoint, Amanda Vanstone interviewing Assistant Professor Alan Levinovitz, Chinese philosophy and religion, James Madison University).
‘Clicking stick’ strongly backed by chiros: Despite expert opinion that the Activator "doesn't do anything but make a clicking noise and press down a little bit. What nonsense," a new study reveals that this device is used by chiropractors for at least 20% of their patient treatments.
Herbal Medicines Adulterated, Contaminated or just plain Missing. It’s an International Scandal: Despite the known lack of efficacy of many complementary medicines and the potential for harm, or contamination, the multimillion dollar herbal supplement industry also known as Big Supplement, seems to get a free pass.
Community health group told to remove NSW Health Logo: A NSW government-funded community health group encouraging parents to get advice from the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) will be asked to remove the NSW Health logo from its website after the department said it had ended its association with it.
Good or bad? CAM practitioners to be rated: One high profile private health insurance company has set up a website, an online directory of complementary and allied healthcare providers, to allow users to leave comments about their "customer service experience". GPs and medical specialists were not listed. Both the Dietitians Association of Australia and the Australian Dental Association have advised their members not to be involved with the directory
Chiropractic charity spending questioned: A chiropractic research organisation has been criticised for spending only 3% of its $1.6 million revenue on research grants compared to nearly 12 times that amount on employee benefits expenses.
What did the chiro baby report really say?: After weeks of speculation and spin, reliable facts are finally beginning to emerge in the case of the Melbourne chiropractor who allegedly fractured a baby's neck.
FSM work group pathology recommendations: Some of the nation’s most experienced pathologists warn that commercially driven, unvalidated, pseudo-medical tests are endangering the well-being of Australians by giving wrong diagnoses and incorrect reassurances of their health.
Concerning Signals in Pharmacy Students’ Attitudes About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Unless there is a deliberate and explicit attempt to call out and push back against the degradation of academic and scientific standards created by existing forms of CAM education and “integrative medicine” programs, we should expect to see a growing normalizing of pseudoscience in health professions like pharmacy.
Herbal supplements: do we really know what is in them?: A discussion about a recently published analytical study that investigated northern American herbal product integrity and authenticity.
Never let the truth get in the way of a lucrative story: Using acupuncture as an example, the doyen of alternative medicine discusses the cause and effect cycle in alternative medicine.
Low vax rates raise disease risk: Stubbornly low immunisation rates in parts of New South Wales and Queensland have fueled concerns that areas of the country are vulnerable to sustained outbreaks of serious diseases including measles and whooping cough.
Do high doses of vitamin C raise prostate cancer risk? Study shows popping too many supplements could give men tumours: Men who take high doses of vitamin supplements could be increasing their risk of lethal prostate cancer by nearly 30 per cent, say researchers.
GPs urged to protect kids from harmful cam beliefs: Doctors concerned that a child is suffering significantly from undertreatment of conditions such as asthma and eczema due to their parents' alternative health beliefs are being urged to alert child protection authorities.
Turning a blind eye to alternative medicine education: Around the world, academic health science centres should provide evidence based guidance to health professionals and to the public. Unfortunately, many medical and nursing schools endorse the use of CAM.
For GM food and vaccinations, the panic virus is a deadly disease: While it is preferable for those people opposed to vaccination to say silent, doing nothing about vitamin and micronutrient-fortified staple foods in the face of widespread deficiencies in the staple diets of many developing countries is condemning many people to disease-impoverished and tragically shortened lives.
Copper Bracelets and Magnetic Wrist Straps for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Effects: A Randomised Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Crossover Trial: A well designed study has found that wearing a magnetic wrist strap or copper bracelet had no practical value for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
'Humanitarian homeopaths' branded exploitative: ‘Homeopaths Without Borders' is a charity that provides homeopathy-based aid to disaster-ravaged developing nations. It has come under attack from a UK ethicist who is branding it exploitative and troubling as any benefit homeopathic treatments is purely incidental.
Naturopath fails to warn patient of cancer: a New Zealand naturopath has been found guilty under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights after not informing a patient about the severity of the her condition or that her cancerous lesion was worsening during the course of the treatment.
Complementary medicines may put cancer patients' lives at risk: Combining complementary medicine with conventional cancer treatment opens up the possibility of drug interactions that can make cancer treatment ineffective. Worse still, the drugs may interact to exacerbate side-effects of chemotherapy, which can be so severe they endanger the person’s life.
Compulsory preschool jabs would fan the antivaccination lobby’s fire: Opinion article discussing whether evidence supports the view that compulsion actually increases uptake of vaccines.
Patients with Asthma turning to CAMS: A Canadian study identified that one third of patients used CAM for their Asthma and that their use of CAMs is associated with worse asthma control.
How pseudoscience tries to fool you: This article explores the differences between the scientific and pseudo-scientific methods used to substantiate hypothesis.
Abscess cases cast doubt over CAM practices: The "profoundly" unsafe infection control practices of an alternative therapist using "biomesotherapy", which involves injections of sterile saline solution under the skin into acupuncture points, have triggered calls from infection disease experts for stricter policing of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and their premises.
Interview of Professor Ken Harvey for the Medical Observer: Noted public health advocate Associate Professor Ken Harvey on what's lacking in regulating complementary medicines, and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on 'the hand that writes the script'.
The Future of Integrative Medicine: An article published in the American Journal of Medicine about the growth of alternative medicine in US academic health centres. Including a wide range of implausible methods, 13 of their medical schools are now offering fellowships in “integrative medicine”. The lead author is a board certified member of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine an organisation which supports a number of bizarre concepts including homeopathy and energy medicine.
Do chiropractic schools promote quackery? With so many chiropractors claiming that spinal manipulation can be used to change the course of disease, which includes a wide range of childhood health conditions, are unsubstantiated beliefs being handed from one to the next generation of chiropractors?
Jane McCredie: Not so smart: A complaint against a range of homeopathic products targeting children, that could potentially put their health at risk, has been upheld by the Therapeutic Goods Administration Complaints Resolution Panel. This article questions the ethics of trained pharmacists who lend their authority to homeopathic remedies and other quackery and asks why their professional bodies tolerate it.
Alternative Medicine Providers Show Their Greedy Side: In the USA, a growing lobby is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) providers, are lobbying the government to force insurance providers to pay for unproven or disproven alternative interventions. Any attempt to require evidence, they argue, amounts to discrimination.
Acupuncture for treating fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a common painful condition for which no universally accepted treatment exists. An Australian-based team conducted a Cochrane review to see if acupuncture is effective for alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but it has failed to show a sound evidence-base for this intervention.
Controversial Qld Ombudsman now a reality: Replacing their Health Quality and Complaints Commission (HQCC), a Queensland health ombudsman will have sweeping powers to publicly name and shame health practitioners, overseeing all complaints against them in the state, trumping the role of AHPRA and its boards.
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) orders Nature’s Way to retract claims: A complementary medicines maker, who is promoting a wide range of claims for their homeopathic remedies, has been ordered by the TGA’s Complaints Resolution Panel, to publish a retraction over advertisements targeting “vulnerable” children because they contained unlawful efficacy claims
Acupuncture for hot flushes: When acupuncture was compared with sham acupuncture, there was no evidence of any difference in their effect on hot flushes.
Vaccine refusers to miss out on $2000 family payments: In a get-tough message to ''vaccine refusers'' who ignore advice to immunise children against life-threatening diseases such as chickenpox, polio and whooping cough, Mr Rudd will pledge today that if re-elected he will deny them Family Tax Benefit A end-of-year supplements.
Crackdown on Chiropractors: A radio discussion between ABC Sydney and the Chairman of the Chiropractic Board of Australia, after the Board announced its plan to crackdown on chiropractors who step outside their primary role.
Midwife textbook faces edit: A textbook WA universities use to teach midwifery has to be rewritten without some information after it was found to refer to the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) a highly discredited anti-vaccination group.
Chiropractors pushing anti-vaccination line face crackdown, audits: The Chiropractic Board of Australia has launched a widespread crackdown on anti-vaccination elements within the profession, ordering practitioners to remove all anti-inoculation material from websites and clinics, cutting some CPD-approved courses and conducting random audits. FSM is pleased to see this development as it has, from its inception, argued that health interventions, especially those that involve potentially serious diseases and attract taxpayer funding, should be required to demonstrate their scientific validity before they are promoted and administered to patients.
Another wheelchair filled with the help of a chiropractor: Upper spinal manipulation, the signature-treatment of many chiropractors is by no means free of serious risks. Neurosurgeons from New York have just published an interesting case-report where there seems little doubt that a case of quadriplegia was caused by the chiropractic spinal manipulation.
Alarm over belief in homeopathic vax: Queensland Health is warning the public about “fake” homeopathic immunisations, after a doctor raised the alarm that some parents believe they are an effective alternative to regular vaccine.
Antioxidants do not improve fertility, study shows: A new study from New Zealand, suggests that antioxidants do not improve a woman's chances of conceiving as previously suggested.
Those Fish Oil Supplements Might Cause Cancer: An excellent example of proper investigation of the good and bad effects of 'natural' substances. While eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids is good for you, a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that omega-3 fatty acids increase the risk of prostate cancer. The risk for both high-grade and low-grade cancer was increased with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Why patient choice does not apply to alternative medicine: The doyen of the battles against pseudoscience in the UK adds one more insightful piece in his blog: To be meaningful, ethical and responsible, choice needs to be guided by sound evidence.
The difference between evidence-based medicine (EBM) and CAM: While 'conventional' medicine doesn’t always get it right, when the results of research and randomized clinical trials fail to provide the benefits claimed, it is self-correcting and the treatments are no longer offered. CAM treatments, on the other hand, are not abandoned by CAM practitioners when research shows that they don’t work. This is the difference between EBM and CAM.
Child deaths put vax update in spotlight: A new report finds that non-vaccinated children accounted for more than half of Queensland's child deaths from notifiable diseases over the past eight years.
No automatic ban for unsafe medicines:The medicines watchdog has admitted that pharmaceuticals and medical devices proven to be unsafe may still be sold on the market.
Myth? Amber beads can relieve the pain of teething: There is no science to support claims that amber beads can relieve the pain of teething, and tests suggest they could be dangerous.
A view of traditional Chinese Medicine from within; a critical appraisal of the potential harm of TMC in modern China.
Senate calls on AVN to disband. A motion by Senator Dr Richard di Natale was passed last week, urging the AVN to cease operating immediately.
UK homeopaths offer to rebrand products as 'confectionery': Faced with an Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) crackdown on unlicensed medicines, one of Britain's leading manufacturers of homeopathic remedies has indicated it would be prepared to relabel its products 'confectionery' to circumvent regulation.
Complementary Health Care Council (CHC) rant against critics: Includes the Special Report: TGA between a rock and a hard place on CMs- the TGA is regularly criticised for failing to control ‘rogue’ complementary medicines makers who break promotional regulations but appear to suffer few consequences, but is it hamstrung by a confused and misdirected regulatory system?
Osteopathy is based on little more than wishful thinking: The claims made that osteopathy is effective for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, are based more on wishful thinking than on reliable evidence. As so often happens with CAM, the victims of bogus claims are the consumers who are being misled into making wrong therapeutic decisions, wasting money, and delaying recovery from illness.
Related articles: -
Cardiac tamponade complicated by acupuncture: hemopericardium due to shredded coronary artery injury: This case study challenges the claims that acupuncture is safe.
Push for nationwide child vaccination standards: Parents nationwide could face tough new vaccination requirements before they can enroll their children in school or childcare following a meeting of the country’s health ministers.
(*) These are .pdf files, click on the name to download.
Push for nationwide child vaccination standards: Parents nationwide could face tough new vaccination requirements before they can enroll their children in school or childcare following a meeting of the country’s health ministers.
Alternative medicine for kids: when is it child-abuse?: Alternative medicine has the image of being gentle and risk-free; it is therefore frequently used for children. German experts have performed a systematic synthesis of all Cochrane reviews in paediatrics assessing the efficacy, clinical implications and limitations of alternative medicine use in children and have just published an important article on this rather controversial topic.
How chiropractors put patients at risk: A team of Swiss and UK chiropractors have published a survey to determine which management options their colleagues would choose in response to several clinical case scenarios. The results clearly show that they fail to respond adequately and are putting patients at risk.
If a medical cure looks too good to be true, it probably is: For all the advances in medicine, effective cures are rare, yet we are bombarded with sensational claims based on little evidence.
HPV prevention: vaccination works: HPV infection is incredibly common with 2% of infected people staying infected, and they remain at risk of cancer throughout their lifetime. Cancers most commonly develop after 20 to 40 years after catching the virus.
Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo: the end of a myth: More research has been done on acupuncture than any other form of alternative medicine, and some of it has been of quite high quality. the outcome of all this research is that acupuncture has no effects that are big enough to be of noticeable benefit to patients, and it is, in all probability, just a theatrical placebo.
The Randomized Linxian Dysplasia Nutrition Intervention Trial After 26 Years of Follow-up: No Effect of Multivitamin Supplementation on Mortality: Although substantial numbers of people worldwide take multivitamin supplements, including an estimated 40% or more of US adults, their effectiveness remains unclear.
Doctors back new vaccination law: According to the AMA, legislation being introduced to the NSW parliament to exclude children who don’t have vaccination records from childcare centres has the support of doctors and should lift immunisation rates.
Have you seen quackery promoted?: A row over the handout of anti-vaccine literature at an RACGP accredited course in Melbourne last year has as triggered concern over the prevalence of quackery promotion at doctors' educational events.
Pathologists back vit D test restrictions: The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia has recommended against routine testing in health adults and children in a bid to curb unnecessary vitamin D tests.
A view on vaccination myths: In recent years there’s been growing debate around the safety of vaccinations – but how much of this is based on untruths? In the latest collaboration between SBS and The Conversation, Dr Rachael Dunlop – a post-Doctoral fellow in the School of Medical and Molecular Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney – shares six myths about vaccinations.
Chiros in the media - an educator responds: A full-time academic staff member in the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University express some personal thoughts against FSM following the announcement that the Macquarie chiropractic degree is being off-loaded.
Weighing up calcium supplements: An article that looks at some of the risks and benefits of calcium supplements.
Intravenous vitamin injections – where’s the evidence?: Advocates claim vitamin injections can benefit serious conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, fibromyalgia, depression, and that modern-day obsession, “detoxification”. And vitamin infusions aren’t just for the ill. They’re also touted as helpful for preventing illness, too. But despite all the hype and all the endorsements, there is no credible evidence to suggest that routine vitamin infusions are necessary or offer any meaningful health benefit.
Chiropractor ordered to stop using quack chiropractic device. The California Board of Chiropractic Examiners has upheld a complaint against a chiropractor for using a Sensometer, a device banned by the FDA, to diagnose and treat patients. The board concluded that this constituted gross and repeated negligence and ordered him to pay $500 and stop using the device.
Dr Google can't be trusted with child's health: HEALTH Minister Tanya Plibersek has blamed "Google medicine" as a factor in some parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. and that only a small proportion of parents were hard-core vaccine refusers. She blamed the internet for helping to spread baseless theories including a link between vaccines and autism that had been "completely disproven".
Vitamin Industry Speaks out - Today Tonight: Australian complementary medicine industry response to criticism.
Acupuncture: if it looks like a placebo, feels like a placebo, behaves like a placebo, perhaps it is a placebo??: The debate on acupuncture continues with a new study in this area adding an important contribution to our existing knowledge. Acupuncture has been discussed as a method to improve the results of stroke-rehabilitation, but the evidence is hotly disputed.
Bayer balks at Berocca decision: Following a successful complaint in 2010 against Bayer for the claims made for their supplement Berocca, the sponsor has not only continued to advertise their product but have now asked for a judicial review of the TGA decision in the Federal Court.
Regulation around food medicine products fail to protection consumers: This article discusses Important issues about the need for consistency of regulations to apply across the food-medicine interface.
Universities in wacky waste of cash: Millions of dollars are being spent on bizarre university studies into topics such as the emotional impact of visiting tourist sites or the merits of head measuring as $2.3 billion is being stripped from the tertiary education budget to fund the Gonski reforms.
Many alternative medicines fail test:Three-quarters of the complementary medicines reviewed by the national drug regulator have failed government checks, exposing consumers to false health claims that lack scientific evidence.
Alternative diagnostic techniques like bogus bomb detectors: Naturopaths, acupuncturists, iridologists, spiritual healers, massage therapists, reflexologists, applied kinesiologists, homeopaths, chiropractors, osteopaths and many other types of alternative practitioners all have their very own ways of diagnosing what might be wrong with their patients. This article challenges the reliability of these techniques.
NSW midwives misled by textbook direction to anti-vaccination website, AVN: A Core nursing textbook used in NSW universities (with editors that included three Australian midwifery Professors) directs midwifery students to the controversial anti-vaccination website, the AVN, as a legitimate source of information.
Macquarie University declares end to quack degrees: Sydney-based Macquarie University says it wants to offload its chiropractic courses and move towards more "science-based" alternatives.
Immunisation debate spits communities: The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph in NSW are running a campaign to lobby kindergartens and preschools to ban children who are not immunised.
Complementary complexities: While most GPs had recommended vitamins, minerals, fish oil and glucosamine, more than 80% agreed CMs needed more scientific testing before being used in conventional medicine and only 38% felt they were confident discussing CMs with patients. Poor labeling continues to be a problem. The Monash Centre for the Study of Ethics in Medicine and Society and colleagues have set up a broad-based collaboration to foster the quality use of these products which will include an opt-in system, funded by an additional fee paid by the sponsor, which will independently of the TGA provide information on what is known about the efficacy, safety and quality of specific CM products.
Anti-vax group to feel effects of law change: An amendment to legislation has been passed in the NSW Parliament that will allow the state's Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) to initiate its own inquiries into potentially dangerous health activities. This closes a legal loophole that has allowed the anti-vaccination group, the Australian Vaccination Network to defy the HCCC who sought to stop them spreading "misleading and dangerous" information about vaccinations.
Chiros run up big bill for X-ray referrals: Chiropractors’ referrals for X-rays have cost Medicare $156 million over the past five years, figures reveal. Concerns have been raised that the public is paying for some chiropractors to order scans based on dogma, not evidence, and exposing patients to unnecessary radiation. Medicare has already raided one business with links to chiropractors for alleged misuse of the agency’s funds, as part of an apparent crackdown on the industry.
Opt out call for complementary medicine: FSM has called for private health insurers to offer an “opt-out” clause enabling people to avoid the cost of cover for complementary medicines based on “pseudoscience”.
ABC show defamed me, Swisse patriarch claims: When challenged about the efficacy of products, some manufacturers prefer to sue rather than citing independent research. The father of Swisse chief executive Radek Sali, claims that The Checkout defamed him by saying he ‘‘manipulated’’ clinical tests of a Swisse appetite suppressant (which has now been cancelled from the ARTG) to benefit the company. The family has filed a writ with the Victorian Supreme Court.
Jane McCredie: A drop of credibility: An excellent article on the fear of homeopaths that the federal government’s review of the private health insurance rebate for natural therapies represents an attack on their profession. Not so says Jane McCredie "If homeopathy can demonstrate its safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness, it should have nothing to fear from this process."
Adverts pulled from TV after public backlash: A pharmaceutical company has withdrawn adverts linking children's dietary supplements and NAPLAN test results after just two days following a public backlash.
Jane McCredie: Forgotten tolls: A reminder of the scourge of Measles in the third world because of difficulty in vaccinating children and now in the West because of irrational fears.
Cancer Council Australia : Position Statement - Complementary and alternative Therapies: A most comprehensive and credible document by the peak Australian, body the Cancer Council, highlights the very few benefits and the significant dangers of CAMs in cancer therapy.
Research lacking in some alternative medicine programs:The article raises the question as to whether universities that teach complementary and alternative medicine are doing enough research in these areas.
Measles: new efforts needed to stop old disease: Parents who do not have their children vaccinated due to ideological reasons, not only place their own children at risk, but also threaten the most vulnerable children in Australia.
Anti-vax parents failing in responsibility to all: AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton has called for tougher action against groups making misleading claims about the dangers of vaccination amid evidence that thousands of children are being left vulnerable to deadly diseases.
Measles outbreak linked to discredited anti-vax study: A discredited study linking vaccination with autism has been blamed for contributing to a measles outbreak in the UK affecting more than 600 young people.
GPs say no to homeopathy: The UK study shows homeopathy is no longer GPs' most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine, having been overtaken by acupuncture as the alternative of choice.
Effect of complementary and alternative medicine on the survival and health-related quality of life among terminally ill cancer patients: a prospective cohort study: Researchers have found that patients considered terminal who used "complementary and alternative" cancer treatments lived no longer and had a lower health-related quality of life than similar patients who did not. The study followed 481 patients at university hospitals and the National Cancer Center in Korea and found that 202 (42%) used at least one method that could be classified as "CAM." The CAM group showed decreased cognitive functioning, more fatigue, and clinically worse changes in quality-of-life ratings.
Australia's drug regulator slammed, with calls for harsher penalties for misleading pharmaceutical products: AUSTRALIA'S drug regulator has been slammed as a "watchdog scared to go out in the rain", with renewed calls for harsher penalties for pharmaceutical companies that mislead consumers.
Chiro, optometry boards slammed by AMA: The AMA has launched a scathing attack on chiropractor, optometry and psychology boards for pushing their own professional agendas ahead of patient safety.
More info soon on TGA ad reforms: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is conducting presentations to the industry about proposed advertising reforms, new procedures for advertising breaches and their regulatory impact statement.
Chiropractor referrals prompt Medicare raid: Investigators, suspicious about a company that allegedly paid chiropractors in return for radiology referrals, have raided them over the alleged misuse of Medicare money.
A barrage of marketing using big-name celebrities has Australians popping more pills than ever; Vitamin companies are spending millions to convince consumers of their celebrity credentials using high profile movie stars and sporting heroes to suggest that their products work. This article investigates the claims made for some of the most popular complementary medicines
A pox on both your parents: This article explores possible reasons for immunisation hesitance and discusses strategies that are, or could be, employed to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.
Name change helps Swisse sidestep ban on 'hunger' product: High-profile vitamins company Swisse has evaded an attempt by authorities to ban its appetite suppressant product by registering a new product with exactly the same ingredient under a new name.
The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia: the compulsion of anti-vaccinationism: A comprehensive look at statements made by influential members of the Chiropractors’ of Australia (CAA), before and after the recent press exposing a series of anti-vaccination courses assessed by the CAA and approved by the Chiropractic Board of Australia, their efforts to convince new parents not to vaccinate their babies and their role in establishment of the high profile anti-vaccination movement the Australian Vaccination Network.
Dodgy 'cures' taken off the market: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recalled and delisted hundreds of medical devices because they are either faulty, dangerous or because they do not work. Calls are mounting for an overhaul of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which runs the register, to give it more power to tell consumers what works, what does not, and to stop faulty goods getting to market.
AVN ordered to display online warning: The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is appealing the NSW Fair Trading order to change its name or be deregistered so it has now been ordered to publish a prominent consumer warning on its websites and Facebook page. The controversial group has been attacked by doctors and scientists for discouraging parents from vaccinating their children.
A response is received from the Chiropractic Board of Australia: Dr Mick Vagg discusses the response from the Chiropractic Board of Australia following an investigation by the FSM into anti-vax courses for practicing chiropractors, that continue to receive Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
Pharmacists should drop products that aren’t backed by evidence: Dr Ken Harvey challenges the sale of unproven products by pharmacies which brings in considerable profit. Thee include homeopathics, weight loss products, a wide range of vitamin and mineral combinations and products to enhance “sexual prowess".
When is a medicine not a medicine?: More than half of Australians who take multivitamins do not know that they are regarded as medicines and more than half of all complementary medicine users believe that complementary medicines, including vitamins, are independently tested by a government agency such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Chiro leaders rubberstamped anti-vax course: The Chiropractors' Association of Australian, the professional standards body representing 2,600 chiropractors, gave the go-ahead for a strong opponent of vaccinations to train its members in the “science” of vaccination.
Critics weight in as AVN ponders new name: The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which is really an anti-vaccination group, has just one week to change its name and there's been no shortage of suggestions for a new one.
Concerns about chiros not some phoney turf war: Following the three recent Sydney Morning Herald articles, that raised a number of issues about chiropractic, Dr Mark Vagg investigates the claims by the chiropractors that no children have been harmed and give some good advice to the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia and their Board.
6Minutes Insight: Why are chiros taking lessons in anti-vax?: An article that questions why chiropractors can earn points doing an eight hour course on the “science” of vaccination. Particularly when tainted by an anti-vaccination message.
Supplements produce ‘expensive urine’, not results: According to experts, the majority of supplements being utilised by professional athletes — such as protein shakes, amino acids, vitamin supplements and minerals — produced little or no benefit to overall fitness, conditioning and performance. In effect 90% of what they’re taking is placebo.
Concerns about chiros are about quality and safety, not some phoney turf war: Following the three recent Sydney Morning Herald articles, that raised a number of issues about chiropractic, Dr Mark Vagg investigates the claims by the chiropractors that no children have been harmed and give some good advice to the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia and their Board.
Half of pregnant women use CAM: More than half of pregnant women use complementary and alternative medicines as part of their maternity care, an Australian study finds, raising fresh safety concerns. The survey of 1835 pregnant women found 52% have visited a massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, aromatherapist, herbalist, naturopath, osteopath etc while pregnant.
Detention Without Physical Examination of Class III Devices Without Approved PMA's Or IDE's and Other Devices Not Equivalent or No 510k: The FDA has listed hundreds of devices that have not been cleared or approved for sale in the United States and therefore should not be commercially imported. The devices, some of which are promoted in Australia, include unapproved HIV diagnostic kits, alleged penile corrective devices, alleged breast-enhancing devices, the Oasis Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulator (CES), the Quantum Xrroid (also called QXCI or EPFX), and the Ondamed System Regulation Biofeedback Device, which is falsely claimed to diagnose and treat the gamut of disease by detecting and correcting vibrations associated with organ dysfunction.
Caustic Cancer Cures: Alternative cancer treatments and products often make huge promises with little evidence to support either their safety or efficacy.
Child Treatment Warning: Funding for chiropractic treatments for children aged up to 14 has increased by nearly 185 per cent in the past five years. With some chiropractic treatments potentially putting children’s lives at risk, the nation's top doctors have called for an end to government subsidies for children to receive unproven alternative medicine treatments.
Why Australia’s Alternative Medicine Regulations Need Fixing: The use of chiropractic and naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, as well as homoeopathic and aromatherapy products are increasing. However, in many cases, the evidence for CAMs having significant beneficial effects is scant and may even be harmful.
Private health insurance rebates for natural therapies in the spotlight: Most Australians with private health insurance receive up to a 30% rebate from the federal government. This controversial policy was designed to encourage uptake but it also gives the government responsibility for ensuring that benefits paid through the rebate are for services that have a credible evidence base. Concerns about some of the services offered, has apparently resulted in the announcement of the Natural Therapies Review in the 2012-13 federal budget.
Possible Link Between High Vitamin D Levels In Expectant Mothers And Increased Infant Allergy Risks: Pregnant women should avoid taking vitamin D supplements. Supplementation appears to raise the risk of children developing a food allergy after birth. This was the conclusion drawn from a new survey carried out by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg in Germany which was published in the medical journal Allergy.
AHPRA in running for Bent Spoon: AHPRA has been nominated for Australia’s most prestigious quackery honour for its move to promote competency standards in acupuncture.
It can't hurt, right? Wrong: While we take vitamins and supplements to improve our health, new research confirms they can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Value of calcium, vit D questioned: While prescribing high doses of the supplements for those with vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis is still recommended, new recommendations from a US government advisory group, say that healthy postmenopausal women should not bother with low-dose dietary calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Carlo Pirri: Embracing CAM: The article points to the wide use of CAM by patients often not mentioned to their GPs. Evaluating the risks, not surprisingly botanical agents pose the greatest risk of harm to cancer patients and is strongly discouraged. The study confirms that some mild complementary interventions used in support of conventional treatments, are beneficial in reducing symptoms or emotional distress and improving the quality of life of cancer patients. This study confirms that there is really no safe or effective alternative to proper medicine in serious diseases and that relaxation techniques and similar psychological interventions can ameliorate the sense of well being of some patients.
Prince's charity lobbied government to water down homeopathy criticism: Draft guidance for the website NHS Choices warning that there is no evidence that homeopathy works was suppressed by officials following lobbying by a charity set up by the Prince of Wales.
Doctor's anti-vax praise deemed okay: Despite facing 25 separate complaints involving his treatment of 22 patients, a former GP, who congratulated a patient for refusing to vaccinate her child and who practises myofascial and environmental medicine, was cleared of incompetence by the State Administrative Tribunal of WA. The tribunal dismissed demands by the Medical Board of Australia that he should be struck off.
Legal proceedings commence against Homeopathy Plus: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced legal proceedings against Homeopathy Plus Australia Pty Ltd and homeopath Frances Sheffield, relating to articles on the Homeopathy Plus website about the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine and the homeopathic approach to the treatment and prevention of whooping cough.
Naturopathic shenanigans in the Maryland legislature: Naturopaths in the US are seeking legitimacy and greater access to government health rebates through licencing. However, this does not increase consumer protection, but may be just a strategy to convince vulnerable patients that their practices, which include homeopathy, colloidal silver treatments and chelation therapy, have evidence to support them.
Spinal manipulation: a treatment to die for?: An article from Prof Edzard Ernst which discusses a new review that summarises published cases of injuries associated with cervical manipulation in China, and the risks and benefits of this therapy.
Former AVN president forced to retract advertising on black salve: A TGA complaints resolution panel has ordered former Australian Vaccination Network president Meryl Dorey to retract advertisements for black salve on the grounds claims regarding the product were misleading.
Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kidney Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study: Vitamin C supplements is linked to kidney stones. An 11 year study of more than 48,000 men has found that those who took vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements were twice as likely to develop kidney stones than those who did not.
Spinal manipulative therapy for acute low back pain: an update of the cochrane review: This Cochrane update concludes that Spinal Manipulation Therapy (SMT) is no more effective for acute low back pain than inert interventions, sham SMT or as adjunct therapy. SMT also seems to be no better than other recommended therapies and the authors suggest that future RCTs should examine specific subgroups which include an economic evaluation.
ADHD symptoms persist despite treatment: Nine out of 10 preschoolers diagnosed with moderate to severe ADHD continue to experience serious symptoms long after their original diagnoses and often despite treatment. ADHD remains a serious condition regardless of the treatments offered by medical doctors, but the evidence base from controlled trials is clear that medication has the most effectiveness compared to alternative therapies.
Sweeping reforms for CAM industry: TGA: The complementary medicines industry will be limited to a standard list of health indications to stop companies making unverified claims. This includes the drafting of new laws being developed by the national drug regulator to stop false health claims.
Measles outbreak hits northeast England: Northeast England has seen a serious outbreak of measles, with more than 100 confirmed or suspected cases and 29 patients needing hospital treatment. Most of the cases involve unvaccinated schoolchildren and young adults.
Where next for evidence based healthcare?: The evidence base and the methods for evaluating diagnostic strategies continue to lag behind the far better resourced research on treatments. The future of healthcare depends to a large extent on how quickly and how well new challenges are dealt with.
Private Health Insurance and the illusion of choice: Many people don’t really know what they’re getting when they purchase private health insurance including in the fast-growing area of complementary and alternative therapies.
We were hippies about it; A heartbreaking story of an unvaccinated child from New Zealand who contracted Tetanus.
Calcium increases CVD risk for men A study of almost 400,000 Americans aged 50-71, followed for 12 years on average, found that men taking more than 1000mg of calcium per day were 20% more likely to die from CVD than men not taking supplements.
Scientists question status of alternative therapies: In December 2012, the South Australian branch of the Australian Science Communicators (ASCSA) hosted a panel session on at the Royal Institution of Australia as one of their monthly meetings, Alternative Science: Winners and Losers. It presented five speakers, including three of the five founders of FSM, Prof Ian Musgrave, a pharmacology lecturer and Tory Shepherd, a journalist who frequently covers alternative health matters.
A vitamin a day keeps the doctor away: While vitamins are promoted for good health, for most of us they are a waste of money and could actually do harm.
Efficacy of vitamin and antioxidant supplements in prevention of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials: Two authors independently reviewed and selected eligible randomised controlled trials, based on predetermined selection criteria. An analysis of the 50 selected trails has concluded that there is no evidence to support vitamin and antioxidant supplements for prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Alternative detox: The concept that alternative therapies can eliminate toxins and toxicants from the body, i.e. ‘alternative detox’ (AD) is popular. However, The principles of AD make no sense from a scientific perspective and there is no clinical evidence to support them.
Oxidants, antioxidants and the current incurability of metastatic cancers: Geneticist James Watson, Ph.D., who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, has noted that clinical trials of antioxidant supplements beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium have shown no obvious effectiveness against common cancer and may shorten the life of cancer patients who use them.
Anti-Vax kids' book pulled from sale: Australia’s biggest online book store has de-listed an anti-vaccination book in the face of a backlash from the AMA and parent groups.
Vitamin pills role in recovering from cancer: People with cancer tend to be very keen to find that “special something” to give them an edge in their fight against what is usually a frightening diagnosis. However, there’s no evidence that diet supplements are a panacea for people who have cancer or for anyone who wants to prevent it.
Arthritis relief ad a pain for govt: A government department has been rapped over the knuckles after publishing spurious advertising claims about an "arthritis relief bracelet" in a magazine sent to two million elderly people.
Sting by Chinese Medicine Board pays off: A Chinese medicine practitioner, who used pseudo-scientific devices to treat an undercover investigator who was posing as a patient, has been de-registered for 3 years. Both the BICOM device and Bioptron light therapy device used by the practitioner, have been accepted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration
The Medicandus Guide to Handling Your New Year Hangover: Dr Mick Vagg takes a light hearted look at a range of questionable natural therapies which are promoted as hangover cures.
Anti-vaccination network told to change its name or be shut down: A directive from NSW Fair Trading Commissioner will mean that the anti-vaccination group, ‘Australian Vaccination Network (AVN)’, will have to change its name in the new year because its current name could mislead parents. .
Monday’s medical myth: take a vitamin a day for better health; Even though vitamin manufacturers would have you believe it’s important to take daily vitamins to boost your health, they can do more harm than good.
Testing times for medical science; Professor Rob Morrison is interviewed on ABC Radio on the FSM.
Is Movember a misguided attempt to do good for middle-aged men?: Is there good evidence that screening for prostate cancer is beneficial?
Vital Disclosure: Full disclosure of the relationship between therapeutic goods companies, doctors and other stakeholders is currently in the hands of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Skeptics confer spoon accolade: A homeopathic website won the Bent Spoon Award. Also, FSM was awarded the Australian Skeptics of the Year Award for "recognition of their exemplary work during 2012 in exposing misrepresentations and lack of critical thinking in Australian Universities".
Hypnotherapy: panacea or placebo?: Hypnotherapy is proposed by one of its practitioners, despite small effects and a lack of scientific explanation of how it works.
Of 11,000 complementary medicine products on the market, about 200 have been tested: The not-for-profit Consumers Health Forum raises serious issues about lack of test for complementary medicine products despite their extensive and costly use in Australia.
Belief not science is behind flu jab promotion, new report says: An independent meta-analysis of vaccines against influenza has found that claims of benefit have been significantly exaggerated.
Experts query latest advice on vitamin D supplementation: Specialists have queried the clinical utility of guidelines on vitamin D supplementation, suggesting aspects of a recent Australasian position paper are “misleading” and it is out of step with other expert opinion.
Suisse criticised for claim that herbal interventions save the public's money, which would otherwise be spent on GPs and prescriptions, draining Medicare.
Reflexology: panacea or placebo?: The basic underlying premise of reflexology has no sound scientific basis, reflexology maps exhibit several inconsistencies, and there is no convincing evidence that reflexology assessment can identify underlying medical conditions.
The risk of neck manipulation: Prof Edzard Ernst comments on a new but flawed analysis on the risks of neck manipulation in view of the recent announcement in the UK, by the British Chiropractors Association (BCA) of the approval by the Queen of a grant of a Royal Charter to the College of Chiropractors, the first Royal Charter to be granted to a complementary medicine organisation in the UK.
Large study shows that multivitamins do not protect against heart disease.
Research on acupuncture does not justify its use.
Myth of safety of 'natural remedies' for cancer.
Chiropractic therapy: placebo or panacea? A chiropractor’s opinion.
The results of a recent meta-analysis on acupuncture are discussed by Professor Edzard Ernst, the world’s first Professor of Complementary Medicine, who finds it the "most compelling evidence yet to demonstrate its ineffectiveness."
Medical experts at Macquarie University, who host courses on a 'chiropractic mallet' device called the 'Activator' (supposedly used to lengthen children's legs) and which attracts professional development points for practicing chiropractors, have reviewed the device and agree that it is little more than an 'expensive placebo'.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has warned the marketers of Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI) devices to stop selling them without FDA clearance or approval. The device has been claimed to "measure the 24 meridian points on the body" to help diagnose and treat patients.
Cranberry juice is unlikely to prevent cystitis: A review from the Cochrane Library – women would have to consume two glasses a day for long periods to prevent one infection. Current evidence does not support a preventive role.
The alternative medicine guru, Professor Edzard Ernst, opens his own website, but no libellous comments please.
Aussie surgeon explodes the myths and the dangers of colonic irrigation.
On the same page, The Guardian carries an advertisement for Lumosity, skeptically reviewed by Stanley Loewen in Health Guidance.
Ironically, the What doctors don't tell you website features support from The Guardian: "Information that is scientific yet easy to digest is sparse… What Doctors Don't Tell You provides much damning evidence."
Lead poisoning from Ayurvedic 'medicine': Man given Ayurvedic 'remedy' for pain ingests 25,000 times maximum daily dose of lead.
Time to rally the troops against the anti-vaccine movement: Concerns are raised about the growing movement in western countries against vaccination.
Could Viagra help save tigers?: Conservationists are hoping that advances in Western medicine may persuade those promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine to stop using parts from exotic and endangered animals to cure various ailments.
The inherent paternalism and deception in CAM: Steven Novella challenges the claim made by CAM proponents that people seeking health care need 'freedom of choice'.
RMIT Open Day 2012: Traditional Chinese Medicine: An inside look at what prospective Traditional Chinese Medicine students were told during the 2012 RMIT open day.
Placebos and nocebos: Some welcome scientific research.
Pharmacists still selling cough medicines for kids: Even though the use of cough and cold medicines for children under the age of six were banned six weeks ago, some pharmacists are still selling them to treat these youngsters.
Proposed mechanisms for homeopathy are physically impossible: A physicist details why homeopathy is impossible.
Holding out for a miracle: An increasing number of cancer patients are turning their backs on often unpleasant conventional treatments to use unproven, potentially harmful 'miracle' cures, usually with tragic results.
Herbal Menopause Supplement Often Contains Other Species, DNA Bar Coding Reveals: Despite the popularity of black cohosh as a natural alternative for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, genetic analysis of some preparations has shown misidentification and adulteration. This might explain the mixed results and certainly casts doubts on the accuracy of supplement labels.
'Cult' health group faces AHPRA inquiry: Despite claims by former tennis coach and unregistered practitioner, Serge Benhayon, the founder of ‘Universal Medicine’, that he is not claiming to cure people, he will be investigated by AHPRA for allegedly holding out to be registered medical practitioner.
Acupuncture, chiro should be investigated: Academics: FSM recently wrote to the Health Minister asking for acupuncture and chiropractic to be included in the Chief Medical Officer’s investigation into complementary interventions.
No benefit for ginkgo biloba in MS: Despite the absence of any evidence of effectiveness, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on attempting to improve cognition.
Can we finally just say that acupuncture is nothing more than an elaborate placebo?: Science-Based Medicine analyses the latest meta-analysis of acupuncture concluding that it is nothing more than an placebo intervention.
Comments on the dilemma in the July/August issue: ‘Homeopathic vaccine’: Complementary and Alternative Medicine seems to be a hot topic in vet circles these day with this article appearing in JAVMA the main US journal and 'In Practice’ the main UK journal.
Saving health care costs in the UK with 'the water cure'. New British Minister of Health believes in magic potions: The new British Minister of Health, Jeremy Hunt, is a firm believer in homeopathy.
Stabbing Needles Into Children To Treat Asthma: Malpractice, Or Just A Very Bad Idea? (US): Prof Steven Salzberg discusses the abuse of children by using acupuncture as an intervention for asthma.
An acupuncture meta-analysis; A meta-analysis of the Vickers et al has been effectively criticized by Steven Novella of the American Science-Based Medicine.
Doubt continues over spinal manipulation: An updated cochrane has declared that employing spinal manipulation to treat acute low-back pain appears to be no more effective than “sham or fake” spinal manipulation.
Fish oil debunked for heart health: A review of 23 years’ worth of randomised controlled trials found no significant link between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular death, MI, stroke or sudden cardiac death.
Another cancer treatment?: With alternative medicine practitioners making a raft of unproven claims for cancer cures, Science-Based Medicine looks at the behaviour of orthodox scientists in promoting their discoveries and asks, “Is shameless self-promotion of your science a good idea”?
Bogus cures under spotlight once more: Following the early death of a cancer patient, this week the Health and Disability Commission (HDC) upheld a complaint against a natural therapist finding that they acted unethically by crossing professional boundaries and breached several rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.
Forget about ginkgo to ward off Alzheimer's: Another large trial has failed to find long-term ginkgo biloba supplements effective at preventing Alzheimer's disease. More than 10,000 patients have now been involved in clinical trials of ginkgo biloba with no reported benefits.
Swisse vitamins' sweetener to doctors: complaint resolution: A blind eye has been turned by Australian health authorities to Swisse (provider of many unproven remedies) offering inducements to general practitioners for selling Swisse products to patients. Both the offer of inducements and the selling of products to their patients are seen by many critics as being unethical. However, there is no Australian regulatory authority with power to halt this practice.
New drugs from ancient texts: Traditional Chinese medicine often gets a bad press, but proponents say it represents an untapped pharmacopeia, and are using cutting edge biotechnology to prove it (Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2012;90:562-3, doi:10.2471/BLT.12.020812). Of about 100 000 existing formulas that go back 2000 years, artemisinin is one such gem, now used to treat malaria. In 2011, the Chinese government invested $1bn (£0.64bn; €0.82bn) in research into traditional medicines, tripling the amount spent in 2010, while another $1bn went into building 70 new traditional medicine hospitals.
FSM supports the use of contemporary science to test the true efficacy and safety of “traditional” medicines. Thus piece reported in the BMJ (the British Medical Journal) describes how China is applying this principle.
GP de-registration shows double standard for health practitioners: A New South Wales general practitioner, who was de-registered by the NSW Medical Tribunal for claiming that he could treat many serious conditions by 'spinal manipulation', has lost his appear to the Supreme Court. But the very same claims are made by numerous chiropractors and the same techniques are used without a whiff of disquiet from the Chiropractic Board of Australia. Can AHPRA, responsible for the registration of all health practitioners, explain this double standard?
Outcry sees new CAM rules relaxed: A proposal that would have forced complementary products from the shelves unless their claims were endorsed by 'experts” has been dropped. Under draft guidelines prepared by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and released in May, makers of complementary medicines would have had to hold “expert reports” for any of their products listed on the register of therapeutic goods.
Potentially deadly illegal pills arriving at border (NZ): Hundreds of illegal and potentially deadly sex and weight-loss pills are being brought into the country.
A bit fishy: Do omega-3 fatty acids provide real hope or mere hype?
Echinacea should not be given to children under 12 years (UK): A warning about oral herbal products by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The warning follows precautionary advice from the European Herbal Medicinal Products Committee (HMPC) and UK Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC) that the risks outweigh the benefits.
Quackery and mumbo-jumbo in the US Military: Cupping, moxibustion, and battlefield acupuncture are endangering troups.
Scientology detox programmes: expensive and unproven (UK): There is no evidence Scientology's detox programs work, and the megadoses of vitamins involved may harm health.
No cough and cold meds for under 6s: TGA: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has finalised its review on the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, advising restrictions in children but rejecting calls for the drugs to be up-scheduled.
Edzard Ernst: The “natural” equals “safe” fallacy (UK): The first Professor of Complementary Medicine, Edzard Ernst discusses the belief that anything natural must be safe and suggests that this fallacy is deeply ingrained in our minds and that as humans, we are hard-wired to believe this myth.
Ernst decries firms' large dose of cash for pro-homeopathy website (Uk): Edzard Ernst may have officially retired as professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, but his efforts to subject the field to scientific scrutiny - and the fierce acrimony those efforts provoke - show no sign of abating.
Advertising watchdog orders website to remove claims linking MMR vaccine with autism (UK): A website that offers parents information about childhood immunisation has been told to remove claims that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine could be causing autism in some children, as they were misleading.
Universal strips website following TGA investigation: 'Universal Medicine’ an alternative therapy group has removed a number of unregistered herbal supplements from sale online following inquiries to the Therapeutic Goods Administration about its efficacy claims.
Demand for sanctions on alternative therapists: Public health leaders have called for tougher and more consistent regulation of unregistered alternative therapy providers but appeared split on whether more pre-emptive policing is needed to protect sometimes desperate and vulnerable consumers.
UOW to investigate Chinese medicine: NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell this week witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Wollongong (UOW) and a major Chinese pharmaceutical corporation, the Chengdu Di'ao Group, to investigate the use of Chinese medicines be used to treat type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, cancer and obesity.
Multivitamins: Choice investigates the question: do you really need to take multivitamins in the first place?
Homeopaths offer to rebrand products as 'confectionery' (UK): Faced with an Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) crackdown on unlicensed medicines, one of Britain's leading manufacturers of homeopathic remedies has indicated it would be prepared to relabel its products 'confectionery' to circumvent regulation.
'Mystical cures' Professor John Dwyer - In Conversation: Emeritus Professor John Dwyer talks to the Medical Observer Journal about the need for greater consumer protection against unproven health therapies and practices (Video).
Concern chiros, acupuncturists may create PCEHRS: The legislation underpinning the $467 million (Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record) PCEHR system states that only doctors, registered nurses and Aboriginal health workers can create and curate the health summaries. However, concerns have been raised that any registered health professional, including chiropractors and acupuncturists who have limited understanding of medications and medical diagnoses, could create patients’ health summaries.
Ken Harvey: It’s worth the hassle; Dr Ken Harvey discusses the recent defamation threats against him for challenging products that do not provide the benefits claimed and encourages other people to complain against false and misleading advertising to send a clear message to our regulators about their inadequate laws.
RCGP: Personal health budgets 'should not be used for ineffective therapies' (UK): The UK Personal Health Budget scheme gives patients with long-term conditions cash budgets to spend on their health care. However, while acknowledging that the concept was a good idea ‘in principle’, in a letter to the Government the RCGP raised concerns that the funds would be used for alternative medicine’
Bitter pill: Fight over science in medicine: The debate as to whether alternative therapies should be taught in universities continues.
Other related articles - which includes three articles in the online journal "The Conversation" making indefensible criticisms on FSM and good science in Medicine. Their readers appear to confute most arguments in the articles adverse to FSM:
Anti-vaccine movement causes the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years: Regions in the US with a highly educated population, including Washington State, are experiencing the outcomes of the ant-vaccination movement who have convinced a frighteningly high number of parents in to withhold vaccines from their children.
Other related articles:
'Old world' diseases measles, tuberculosis, whooping cough in Queensland resurgence: QUEENSLAND'S measles scare is the latest in an alarming re-emergence of "old-world" diseases that won't die.
Other related articles:
More mothers choosing to have babies at home without help: The debate about the safety of home birthing continues as more pregnant women choose to go through birth alone at home without professional help. This follows a coronial inquest examining midwife Lisa Barrett's involvement in three fatal home births.
Other related article:
Oh baby. What are chiropractors thinking!: The indefatigable Tory Shepherd questions the treatment of babies by chiropractors and states that it’s time for the Government to set up an online information and warning database to inform people about various health practitioners and their practices.
Other related articles:
"Little H": Edzard Ernst discusses the unethical strategies that the homeopathy industry uses to promote their trade.
Spin beats science on sports drinks: Experts have slammed some of the world’s biggest sports brands, saying there is virtually no evidence for the claims they make about drinks, shoes and supplements.
Other related articles:
Missing the Point About Evidence Based Medicine (teaching and doing): Professor Ian Musgrave sends a memo to CAM enthusiasts, suggesting that they try not to shoot themselves in the foot publicly when they take on evidence-based medicine (and the FSM!).
Speedier TGA inquiries on the way: The Therapeutic Goods Administration will be given tighter deadlines for investigating advertising breaches among a raft of long-awaited reforms to be rolled out from this month.
Other related articles:
Chiropractors seeing more young children as parents seek more holistic treatments: Parents are using chiropractors as alternatives to doctors, despite the lack of evidence that their treatments provide any benefits.
The rise and rise of Vitamin D testing: A dietitian and an endocrinologist discuss the lack of guidelines that are causing overtesting, overdiagnosis and overtreatment for vitamin D deficiency.
Regulating alternative practitioners may give them false credibility (UK): Professor Edzard Ernst discusses the statutory regulation of UK herbalists which is likely to lend authority to professions that do not deserve it. This is paralleled here in Australia with the registration of chiropractors, osteopaths and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.
Aristolochic acid nephropathy: A disease that could be prevented through more careful regulation of herbal products: Herbal medicinal products can be a threat to public health. Aristolochic acid nephropathy could be eradicated if Governments implemented mandatory listings for herbal products and collected data on their effects. National agencies should improve their surveillance of internet outlets and regularly test available products. The public also needs to be more aware of the potential risks associated with the unregulated use of herbal medicines.
Arthritis sufferers warned about buying unlicensed treatment (UK): Arthritis patients in the UK have been warned against buying Arthroplex capsules which is an unlicensed treatment.
Other related articles:
Catch cancer? No thanks, I’d rather have a shot!: Prof Ian Frazer discusses the role of vaccination now, and in the future, in preventing many cancers.
Why is complementary medicine so popular?: Edzard Ernst suggests there in no one answer and that doctors need to understand the complexity of reasons that draw their patients to complementary medicines.
Taste of own medicine as diet pill maker told to slim down claims: Yet another sponsor is using the inadequacies of TGA legislation to sell an ineffective weight loss product. To-date the company 'Undoit' has ignored the TGA's Complaints Resolution Panel which requires them to print a retraction, but which has no way of enforcing this determination.
Other related articles:
Holistic GP lost her way: tribunal: An ‘holistic’ GP was suspended for two and a half years after she ignored a radiologist’s report recommending a patient be referred for mammography for suspected breast cancer. A tribunal found she had “lost the discipline and skill required to be a general practitioner".
Other related articles:
Let's reclaim our title as the health-smart gender: tongue in cheek but devastating article for followers of CAMs.
Herbal UTI pill claims 'misleading': panel: Queensland-based Health World Limited, the manufacture of Ethical Nutrients, Metagenics, Endura and Inner Health, has been ordered to publish a retraction relating to herbal pills claiming to treat or prevent urinary track infections. To date, no retraction has been published.
Anti-quackery activist under fire: The maker of a diet pill meant to ‘undo’ the calories consumed by eating Big Macs and fries has accused Australia’s best known anti-quackery campaigner, Dr Ken Harvey, of defamation for suggesting there is no evidence the pills work.
Other related articles:
Turf war over who can claim the title of acupuncturist: The build up to the July 1 launch of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia has seen a battle between health practitioners who call themselves 'acupuncturists' even though there is little evidence that this intervention provides any real health benefits above placebo. The Chief Medical Officer is now investigating therapies from unregistered practitioners with the view to stop the 30% Government private health insurance subsidy for them. Chiropractic and acupuncture will not be investigated, despite the lack of evidence to support claims made by their practitioners.
Other related articles:
GP condemned over cancer deaths: A GP who opened up her home to cancer patients to be treated with an alternative therapy involving infusions of caesium into their bodies may have been swept up in a "cult like" belief, a coroner has found.
A systematic review of acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome included 17 methodologically sound randomised controlled trials. Researchers found no evidence of an improvement in symptom severity or quality of life with acupuncture relative to sham acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome.
Has regulation finally caught up with homeopathy in the UK?: Dr Mick Vagg discusses the impact of the consolidation of UK medicines regulations which will bring homeopathy under the same restrictions as other products that make therapeutic claims.
A bit fishy: nutraceuticals, marketing and procedural justice: Legal expert Bruce Arnold discusses the recent SWISSE court case which highlights the need to revisit the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code in terms of examining the adequacy of regulating products that are perceived by the public as having therapeutic properties.
Other related articles:
Parents fight it out in tussle over child jabs: A young NSW girl is at the centre of a bitter tug-of-war over whether she should be vaccinated.
Longer life through drinking coffee: Dr Mick Vagg suggests that sharing the occasional coffee with friends will help you live longer.
GP succeeds in overturning advertising watchdog’s “gag” policy (UK); A Glasgow GP who complained about the accuracy of a medical screening advertisement has overturned a policy of the UK advertising watchdog to keep the details of some of its cases confidential.
Go easy on anti-vax parents, GP's told: Doctors should avoid engaging in “scientific ping pong” with parents who have outlandish views on vaccination, according to new recommendations.
Olivia Newton-John opens holistic cancer centre: The Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre is now open.
Comment: The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, at the Austin Hospital, claims to “deliver world-class clinical care and scientific research, as well as complementary therapies …. to ease the stress, anxiety and side effects of cancer treatment."
But further comments from Olivia suggest a different emphasis: “the wellness being the really important part…, I had wonderful …. surgery and chemotherapy …., but …. to seek out the other parts of my healing - homeopathy, herbs, massage, acupuncture, meditation and spirituality - I had to seek that outside of the hospital.”
Regrettably, some of Olivia’s listed interventions pretend to replace proper medical care without being able to disclose any reasonable scientific basis.
She is married to John Easterling, who sells herbal remedies.
Cancer patients cleaned out: An ACA investigation reveals that sick, elderly patients are being given false hope and are losing everything.
Other related articles:
Can calcium supplements cause heart disease?: Professor Ian Reid discusses the health risks associated with calcium supplements in light of a growing body of research that shows they confer little benefit and increase the risk of developing heart disease.
An article 'Doctors' orders: debunking homeopathy once and for all', by Professor Ian Musgrave, an FSM Friend, has been included in The Best Australian Science Writing 2012 anthology. Congratulations to Prof Musgrave!
Evidence-based medicine: An article on the efficacy of evidence-based medicine.
Can you eat your pain away? Maybe so, in some cases..: The prestigious journal Pain has reviewed the scientifically supported ways you can alter your diet to improve specific pain problems. Their findings are preliminary in many cases but are scientifically robust and point the way forward to some interesting possibilities for interventions.
Vaccine patch wins Aussie inventor award: an Australian engineer has won an award for his invention of a nonopatch for vaccinations. It works similarly to a nicotine patch. It administers the vaccine by skin absorption directly into areas where immune cells are most abundant. It has demonstrated unprecedented, improved immune responses by targeting the skin's immune system. Great for people who hate injections!
TGA set to implement investigation into CAMs: Advertised claims for the benefits of complementary medicines will come under renewed scrutiny from the TGA as part of a range of reforms designed to “improve community confidence in the safety and quality of these medicines”.
Chiropractors continue to treat children despite lack of evidence: In the UK (and here in Australia), the reluctance of chiropractors to get their act together, despite a lost court case, scientific evidence and mounting negative public opinion, is more than a little disconcerting.
Edzard Ernst: My evidence in better than yours: Edzard Ernst challenges the claims made by alternative medicine practitioners that scientists cherrypick their research when the evidence fails to support the claims made for their treatments.
Other related articles:
Rubella on the brink of elimiation: Australia stands on the brink of eliminating rubella, 40 years after vaccines were first introduced, experts say.
Queensland pair awarded top Queen's honours: Prof Ian Frazer, the creator of the cervical cancer vaccine, has been made a Companion in the General Division for his research into protecting women against the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer.
Chiropractors continue to treat children despite a lack of evidence; In the UK the reluctance of chiropractors to change, in the face of a lost court case, the evidence and public opinion, is disconcerting.
Manipulation is all wrong for necks: A common chiropractic treatment for neck pain, which involves applying thrusts to the neck area of the spine, should be abandoned, say Australian experts.
Other related articles:
Sue Ieraci: True peer review: A NSW doctor questions whether critics actually understand what evidence-based medicine really means.
Why does the government subsidize chiropractic colleges?: With the United States Congress about to extend the student loan program, Professor Steven Salzberg raises concerns about reasons why his government subsidizes students to learn about pesudo=science at chiropractic colleges in the US.
Doctor denounces Gawler program's 'harsh' healing: A Victoria psychiatrist has accused Ian Gawler's foundation of denigrating conventional cancer treatments and encouraging people to use harsh and unjustified lifestyle changes to combat cancer.
Other related articles:
Acupuncturists angry at 'unfair' use of title: Alternative medicine practitioners are claiming that doctors using the title of 'acupuncturist' are putting patients health at risk, even after these doctors have attended additional courses.
Rolfing, Kinesiology, Crystals and other Preternatural Practices! Why am I paying for them?: Questions are raised as to why members of private health funds are forced to pay for pseudo-scientific therapies in their premiums.
The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a Markov Model; Daily dark chocolate consumption could be an effective cardiovascular preventive strategy in this population.
Safety evaluation of commonly used herbal medicine during pregnancy in mice: A recent study of reproductive toxicity cautions against the use of Chinese herbal medicines commonly during pregnancy. (A summary of this article is accessible on the link. The full text might be available through a subscribing university or other library).
CAM on the side: Rural patients often turn to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners for health advice, but their GPs may be the last to know about it.
Quacks galore in facade of quirky medicine: This article queries the wisdom of investing significant research funds on very weak evidence for complementary and alternative therapies. The expensively acquired evidence of lack of effectiveness should, at least, be accepted by the proponents and never resurface again.
Psst Channel 9, don’t mention the C-word on TV. Cure, that is…: Dr Mick Vagg questions the responsibility of television stations who are breaching their own code of conduct in airing segments on unproven cancer cures.
Australia signs free-trade deal with Malaysia: The Australian Government permits Malaysian investors to participate in Australian private hospital services, including massage, homeopathy and traditional medicine.
Alternative medicines can't escape the long arm of the law: Practitioners of alternative medicine who do not abide by the rules of evidence-based practice may fall foul of the law.
The legal challenge that could stop homeopathy in its tracks: Following a class action in Canada, a legal expert suggests that it may require a similar solution here in Australia to ultimately stop homeopaths from promoting ineffective cures and treatments.
Other related articles:
Other related articles:
Will Naturopaths really Provide More and More Illness Prevention?: Pharmacologist Prof Ian Musgrave questions the claims that Naturopaths can keep people well better than orthodox preventative medicine.
Call for mandatory childhood vaccination: Childhood vaccination should be made mandatory to prevent parents’ bad choices putting other vulnerable children at risk, an expert has argued.
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Who do you trust to diagnose your food allergies?: Prof John Dwyer discusses the increasing trend of people using alternative therapies to have their allergies diagnosed.
Doctors need to study alternative medicine: Medical students should be taught the theories behind AltMed so that they can better engage with patients who use them.
Edzard Ernst raises concern over unreported affects of alternative medicine: Most people believe that alternative treatments are safe. But how sure are we that this is true?
Dangers of chiropractic treatments under-reported, study finds: Chiropractic treatments might appear safer than they actually are because their adverse effects are under-reported in medical trials.
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Hypnosis the future of pain relief: doctor: A New Zealand psychiatrist says that he expects hypnosis to be used more widely in the future as a form of analgesia and anaesthesia.
Budget good news: no taxpayer dollars for a "bunch of hooey": Tightening the budget brings some good news for good science in medicine with the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, charged with identifying a range of therapies that have not been shown to be clinically effective. The main targets will be aromatherapy, ear candling, crystal therapy, flower essences, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, reiki and rolfing.
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Supplements: Not mystical anticancer magic: This quality of analysis is what we should aspire to when we address issues in the areas of pseudoscience, denialism and mis-representation of scientific evidence.
Studying Complementary and Alternative Therapies: Since their inception, NCCAM and its predecessor agencies have spent $1.6 billion, much of it wasted.
What if there's no baby in the bathwater? Do we really need a CAM industry?: "Dr Mick Vagg questions the massive funding that has "led to no net value to the community".
Crackdown planned on CAM products: Complementary medicines could be withdrawn from the shelves if their marketing claims are not endorsed by qualified 'experts', under proposed new rules that have outraged the industry.
What's the alternative?; Adelaide GP Dr Oliver Frank doesn't differentiate between conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine.
Comment: Another article from Ian Musgrave, with both wit and depth, to give yet another fatal blow to the expensive and dangerous pseudoscience of homeopathy. Hard to argue and indeed most of those joining his conversation agree. Clarity wins.
SOT - Special: Friends of Science in Medicine: A Science on Top catches up with with Prof Rob Morrison on FSM (radio show).
Chiropractors: living in an alternative reality: A short vibrant article by Dr Ron Elisha criticising the inability of the Chiropractic Council of NSW to condemn a chiropractor disseminating false information on vaccination to the public.
Jane McCredie: Charitable questions; The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) had a legal win last week when NSW authorities restored the organisation’s charitable fundraising authority:
Comment: In this article in MJA Insight, the serious issue of how the anti-vaccination group, named Australian Vaccination Network, could ever have received the status of a charitable organisation, is raised by science journalist Jane McCredie.
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Comment: This is an article from one of a prominent daily newspapers, The Age, in which the story of miraculous cures by the charismatic Ian Gawler, founder of the homonymous Institute for the cure of cancer is being dealt a blow, with one of the previous supporters joining the increasing number of critics of his claims. This article is a good piece of investigative journalism that throws some light on the murky world of alternative medicines.
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Vitamins maker offers free courses to GP for sales: Vitamins supplier Swisse is facing a storm after offering GPs free enrolment in a training course costing nearly $700 if they sold the company's supplements to their patients - a deal condemned by health experts as "irresponsible and unethical".
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Alternative Medicines attack on science: Steve Novella from Quackwatch comments on the deliberate and calculated attack against science by the AltMed industry.
Comment: This is the latest entry to Dr. Novella's Nuerologica blog, a site which reports from a sceptical perspective, on news items and issues relating to neuroscience, as well as general science, scientific scepticism, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society. Dr. Novella's blog entries are interesting and typically quite insightful.
This week's blog offers a well-written critique of the most recent efforts by alternative or complementary medicine advocates, and particularly by homeopaths, to attack the underlying scientific basis of evidence-based medicine and to elevate their own standing. Dr.Novella addresses their points and systematically and effectively rebuts them. He especially challenges their reliance upon anecdotes as evidence.
Comment: An excellent article by Prof Geoffrey Dobb, Vice President of the AMA, that points out the dangers and confusions raised by allowing registration of some categories of alternative practitioners to be under the same regulatory body as medical practitioners and thus blurring of boundaries between evidence-based health professionals and the complementary or ‘alternative’ health practitioners. Professor Dobb also points out that ‘the decision to offer courses in alternative medicines, whatever the motivation, undermines the universities’ credibility in the eyes of many.'
The Believers: Alternative therapies are increasingly mainstream. That means headaches for scientists—and no cure in sight.
Are traditional Chinese medicines safe and legal?: An important article published by Australian researchers on the genetic make up of some Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) confiscated by Customs revealed that some traditional remedies contain endangered animals and toxic plants. The authors wrote a commentary on this subject.
These articles coming shortly after two on the issue of the registration of TCM practitioners in Australia (MJA Insight and The Conversation) raised public awareness of the dangers of both the actual traditional medicines and of their practitioners.
Dodgy healers free to have a quack: A crackdown on shonky healers and complementary therapists has stalled, leaving the booming alternative medicine industry unregulated and putting vulnerable patients at risk.
Whooping cough cases reaches epidemic levels in much of Washington: Washington reports pertussis epidemic:
Comment: Whooping cough disease has reached epidemic levels in Washington. From January 1 through March 31,640 cases were reported--which is seven times as many as the comparable period last year and has put Washington on-pace to have the highest number of reported cases in decades. State officials said that everyone age 11 and older should get a whooping cough booster (Tdap) and that this is especially important for anyone in close contact with babies younger than 12 months. [Whooping cough cases reach epidemic levels in much of Washington: All teens and adults need a whooping cough booster. Washington State Department of Health news release, April 3, 2012] http://www.doh.wa.gov/Publicat/2012_news/12-038.htm Recent data from the Oregon Health Authority show that in Oregon, where the incidence of pertussis has risen steadily since 2006, most cases occur among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children.
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