Sunday, April 06, 2008

Prestige and money behind woo: The Institute of Medicine and The Bravewell Collaborative

Wallace Sampson’s recent Science-Based Medicine blog post about next year’s National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Public Health, put on by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and sponsored by the Bravewell Collaborative piqued my interest.

First a little background. In 2005 a committee of the revered IOM issued a report on complementary and alternative medicine in the U.S. I blogged about it at the time as being promotional of CAM’s irrational claims, citing Steve Barrett’s critical review of the report. Barrett noted:

Despite all the alleged experts involved in its preparation, the IOM report does not contain a single word of criticism against methods that are sufficiently irrational to be discarded now. Instead, it makes broad, sweeping generalizations and attempts to set an agenda for the widespread adoption of “CAM” research and teaching.

Barrett also discussed the report on his Quackwatch website in which he examined conflicts of interest inherent in the funding and heavy influence from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

The Bravewell Collaborative is a philanthropic organization which promotes questionable health claims in medical schools by funding the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.

So what’s going on? Isn’t the IOM supposed give us a vision for quality health care? Whatever the vision is, it doesn’t appear to be a science based vision. Unfortunately the IOM’s promotions will lend an increasing appearance of credibility to unscientific health claims and encourage even more assimilation of woo into medical school curricula. As Sampson put it:

So “IOM,” in exchange for more $?millions as it did for the NCCAM committee, sells itself and its merit badge for “CAM”’s CV sash. Fair exchange in this capitalist system, yes?

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