Friday, August 04, 2006

The fox is guarding the henhouse of science and public trust

And the National Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) doesn’t seem to mind. In researching for my posts on the NCCAM chelation study sites (Trial for the Assessment of Chelation Therapy, TACT) I’m becoming convinced that the NCCAM is entrusting chelation research to promoters of unscientific health claims who have a vested interest in the results. This is particularly concerning because the blinding of the investigators is faulty. According to the study protocol the chelation solution must be mixed at the individual study sites. Patients randomized to the EDTA arm have ascorbic acid injected into the chelation solution at the local study site. Those assigned to placebo have placebo ascorbic acid injected into the mixture. The problem is, the ascorbic acid solution is yellow, while the placebo ascorbic acid is colorless. The work around for this problem is to wrap the ascorbic acid and placebo syringes in tinted translucent tape. It is claimed that the ascorbic acid does not cause a yellow puff when injected into the infusion bag. It would seem easy enough, though, to waste and inspect a few drops of solution before or after injecting the infusion bag.

For insightful and humorous commentary on chelation and the NCCAM check out this week’s Friday dose of woo by Orac.

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