Dr. Wallace Sampson rants on about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the latest video editorial at Medscape. With so much going on in medicine today, why does Medscape use valuable bandwidth to restate, and promote his well-known disregard for CAM?

Is Medscape CAMophobic? Why would this organization allow Dr. Sampson to state that TCM is worthless because it was “developed in a tradition of an authoritarian culture?”

Does anybody really believe that?

Let’s look at the early history of conventional medicine. Was aspirin’s development a textbook example of evidence-based medicine? And what was the predominant ruling political system in Germany for most of the 19th century?

Hint: Starts with “m” ends with “archy.”

More recently, who was watching out for the public good when Vioxx (rofecoxib) was in clinical development, or Felbatol (felbamate)? Based on Dr. Sampson’s logic, perhaps capitalism is not a good environment for drug development.

Past errors, omissions, and politics are not justification to scrape conventional western medicine. And neither are they a reason to denigrate CAM.

The promise of TCM is not so much in its ability to challenge conventional treatment. Not to worry Dr. Sampson, your (and my) favorite medical system is safe. Rather, it lies in the potential for some of it to become complementary to, or integrate into mainstream medicine. Other forms of TCM might become rational alternatives to conventional but less effective treatments. Those treatments that fail will wither.

To advocate junking the entire medical system is just lazy and beneath any educated healthcare professional.

Illustration: Phobia guide

8/15/06 19:27 JR

Hi, I’m JR

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.