Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Surgeon General on CAM

Dr. Val has been doing a great job interviewing our 17th US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D (see here, here and here). But today, in regards to a question on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), I wondered what he was saying... (see the comments).

When one considers that the pharameutical industry has spent more money on marketing recently than R&D, and that those advertising costs are passed down to our patients in the cost of their medications, might removing direct-to-consumer advertising be a better way to lower healthcare costs to our system?



Anonymous said...

I agree with your follow up question to Dr. Carmona - I was hoping he'd explain how NCCAM can justify spending money on homeopathy research or how the return on investment in CAM research is working for the American people so far. His answer was still helpful, though - he believes the government should take a larger role in protecting us from charlatans and snake oil. :)

DrWes said...

As you know, the US Surgeon General is in an incredibly influential public policy post. It is also a very political position as well. While I agree that the government should play a role in protecting us from "charlatains," his office is not responsible for this (I guess the FDA might be considered the appropriate body for this). According to Surgeon General's website:

"The Surgeon General serves as America's chief health educator by providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury."

Is CAM the "best" education his post can deliver? When the Surgeon General promotes the CAM division within our government that costs taxpayers substantial dollars, I grow concerned. Evidence-based outcomes data demonstating CAM's effectiveness have been limited and yet we keeping placing spas and reiki clinics in hospitals, at even more cost to our patients at a time many cannot afford healthcare. It also does not help that he now sits on the board of Canyon Ranch either.

Anonymous said...


it is a very nice and great post and I really appriciate it.

mark's tails said...

DrWes, I agree 100%. It is my understanding that NCCAM was the 'brainchild' of Senator Harkin who believed that his allergies were cured by bee pollen. However, during much of NCCAMs existence no negative result has ever been published and the methods used to study many of these alternative or complementary treatments are poorly designed.

I certainly have little insight into the 'politics' of NCCAM, but hope that their newly appointed Director can turn things around.