Friday, July 22, 2005

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"It is best not to abandon conventional therapy when there is a known
response [in the effectiveness of that therapy]," says Joseph Jacobs,
M.D., former director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of
Alternative Medicine, which was established in October 1992. As an
example he cites childhood leukemia, which has an 80 percent cure
rate with conventional therapy.
But what if conventional therapy holds little promise?

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Many people with serious illnesses are unable to find a cure, or even
temporary relief, from the available mainstream treatments that have
been rigorously studied and proven safe and effective. For many
conditions, such as arthritis or even cancer, what's effective for one
patient may not help another.
Real Alternatives

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In addition, just because something is undergoing a clinical trial
doesn't mean it works or FDA considers it to be a proven therapy,
says Donald Pohl, of FDA's Office of AIDS and Special Health
Issues. "You can't jump to that conclusion," he says. A trial can fail to
prove that the product is effective, he explains. And that's not just true
for alternative products. Even when the major drug companies
sponsor clinical trials for mainstream products, only a small fraction
are proven safe and effective.

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To FDA, it doesn't matter whether the product or treatment is labeled
alternative or falls under the auspices of mainstream American medical
practice. (Mainstream American medicine essentially includes the
practices and products the majority of medical doctors in this country
follow and use.) It must meet the agency's safety and effectiveness
criteria before being allowed on the market.