In a video taped editorial, Dr. Wallace Sampson complains that the NCCAM on its website, “links to trade and unscientific occupational organizations, and presents anomalous methods in a ‘neutral’ light.” Furthermore, Dr. Wallace states, “It contains minimal cautionary, negative information.” This is all the more disturbing because we expect more from a government-sponsored information resource.
The NCCAM counters “while some scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for most there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies, questions such as whether these therapies are safe and whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are used.”
As a clinical professor of medicine (emeritus) at Stanford University, and editor of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, Dr. Sampson’s assessment must not be dismissed. Is it reasonable to expect that studies of CAM be as well designed as those of conventional medicine? I think so.
NCCAM provides a useful service in making CAM data available, but studies of ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, garlic supplements, coffee enemas, and glucosamine, for example, should be held to high study design standards.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.