Friday, April 08, 2005

Interesting conference

I had forwarded to me a description of a conference that might be quite interesting to me and to anyone interested in a critical evaluation of the claims of alternative medicine, Curing the Ills of Alternative Medicine and Questionable Mental Health Practices on May 21 in Amherst, New York. Although unfortunately I can't attend (too far away and other obligations), anyone who has an interest in the scientific and critical evaluation of alternative medicine practices who lives within striking distance of Buffalo should consider attending, particularly if this introduction gets your attention:
It’s taken centuries and the work of countless doctors and researchers to move clinical practice onto sound scientific foundations. Countless millions alive today owe their lives and health to science-based therapies. Yet, there is a growing effort now underway to tear those foundations down. That effort is richly supported by the nutritional supplement and alternative medicine industries. These industries have been aggressively challenging the need for rigorous standards for medical and mental healthcare research and healthcare products, practices, and education. This assault on medical science poses a public danger that goes beyond the marketing of unproven and potentially harmful products and techniques.

The conference, sponsored by the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health (CSMMH), will investigate what’s driving the assault on science-based medicine and mental healthcare and will explore what can be done to stop the erosion of healthcare standards.

While pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers are required to establish the safety and efficacy of their products in well-controlled clinical trials, alternative medicine companies have been exempted from such requirements. As a result, the public is being increasingly exposed to products that are hyped with unproven and even fraudulent claims. Studies have shown that many of these products don’t have the ingredients as described in their labeling. Much worse, some are laced with dangerous prescription drugs or are adulterated with lead, mercury, or other toxic substances. In the realm of psychotherapy, there has been precious little interest in scientific quality control. Many clients are still being urged to “recover” purported memories of early abuse, and children are being seriously abused and even killed by “therapists” who are using pseudoscientific practices to “treat” behavioral problems.

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