Sunday, December 11, 2005

The hypocrisy of the American Medical Student Association

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) was founded in 1950 as a subsidiary of the American Medical Association (AMA). Following “dramatic changes in the organization's objectives and philosophy” the organization severed ties with the AMA in 1967. In 1975, to further distance their image from the AMA they changed their name from the former Student AMA to the current AMSA. Among the association’s stated missions is the promotion of improvement in medical education. One of the education initiatives is the PharmFree campaign which encourages students to refuse gifts and support from drug companies which might influence them away from evidence based medicine. As I previously blogged, the campaign has recently received favorable press. The AMSA states on the campaign web site that PharmFree seeks to promote evidence based medicine and education about clinical guidelines, as well as foster honesty and integrity.

So far, so good----the AMSA says they’re all about science, evidence and ethics. But wait. Dig deeper and you find AMSA actively promoting quackery and pseudoscientific nonsense. Let’s look at a few links. Here we find that they advocate for complementary and alternative medical education. What does that mean? Well, they’ve just formed a naturopathic medicine interest group. (Here’s some reliable information on naturopathic medicine). They have also published a booklet entitled Between Heaven and Earth, a 46 page “Introduction to Integrative Approaches to Health Care.” Far from being a critical or scientific approach, the book actively promotes unscientific methods. Then there’s their Complementary Therapies Primer which teaches and actively promotes all sorts of nonsensical and outlandish claims. Included are promotions of chelation, homeopathy, aromatherapy, therapeutic touch, polarity therapy, rolfing, qigong and ayruvedic medicine.

The AMSA claims to promote evidence based medicine and ethical principles as exemplified by their PharmFree campaign. But their promotion of pseudoscientific nonsense (and, in my opinion, fraud), is neither evidence based nor ethical. It’s hypocritical and it’s outrageous. Thanks to the Health Fraud list for the links.

Update: Click here.

1 comment:

ba said...

Quackwatch is not a scientifically reliable source about competitive health related services, it is political & polemical. QW's authors have not fared well lately in actual court cases. Although there are alternative medical categories that are scientifically incompatible beyond some placebo effect, QW's intransigence & assertions in other areas actually cause a pause in general credibility. Naturopathy has come a ways and looks like it might be trying to shed the homeo- part. Although one might not agree with a number of things there, I have found provocative & fascinating.

As for integrative medicine, AMSA is not doing enough. The medical schools are still in way too deep with the pharma$ to have credible integrative health programs. So far the integrative medicine programs sound more like mere window dressing and decoys.