I just posted the comment below to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recommending that they include people with knowledge of integrative medicine on their panel that will be comparing the effectiveness of medical treatments. Click here to leave your own suggestions/comments about the composition of the proposed panel. (Comments will be accepted until March 23, 2009.) At the end of this posting, I'll give links to other websites with relevant information about this issue.
I urge you to access the above link and offer your own input to the IOM about this very important issue.
TO: The Institute of Medicine
I would like to thank the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for giving me this opportunity to submit my comments and recommendations concerning this panel, which has been slated to make recommendations for the $1.1 billion earmarked for comparative effectiveness research of medical treatments.
In my opinion, it is important to have the right people in on the job from the very beginning, so that the a full range of treatments will be compared, once the real comparative effectiveness research begins.
When I looked at the names on your site of the selected panelists, I could not help but notice that TWO very important groups are not being represented:
1) As has been pointed out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there are NO TRUE PATIENT OR CONSUMER REPRESENTATIVES on the panel. In their words, “the only patient or consumer representative named to the panel’s tentative roster was from the Alzheimer’s Association, a single-issue patient advocacy group that RECEIVES SUBSTANTIAL SUPPORT FROM THE DRUG INDUSTRY.” (A coalition of 20 consumer, public health and patient advocacy groups has written to the Institute of Medicine, asking that at least three consumer representatives be added to the panel.)
2) Also, and of equal importance: There are NO MEMBERS ON THE PANEL WHO ARE EITHER CAM PRACTITIONERS, OR CAM ADVOCATES. (By the acronym CAM, I am referring to complementary/holistic/”alternative”/integrative practitioners and patient advocates.)
I was amazed at (and extremely surprised and troubled by) both omissions. But I find the SECOND omission especially puzzling, since in late February, two extremely exciting events took place:
(a) First, the IOM convened a 3-day Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public, which was attended by hundreds of people from across the country, excited at the prospect that the new healthcare system would include CAM treatments. The consensus was that the effective use of CAM treatments would save our healthcare system HUGE amounts of money. (Here is a description of this Summit, which integrative healthcare activist and Huffington Post blogger, Alison Rose Levy, called “groundbreaking.” You may also listen to audios of all the speakers’ presentations.)
(b) During the same week, Senate hearings were convened, with several integrative healthcare luminaries testifying. For a video of the complete hearing, go here.
I would like to suggest that speakers at this hearing, including Drs. Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz, Mark Hyman and Dean Ornish (as well as several of the Summit speakers and attendees), would be excellent additions to this IOM panel.