Archive | Complementary Medicines

Clever Con Caught

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Posted 29 January 2016

On Sunday night, 24th January, Carte Blanche aired a short documentary titled “Clever Con Caught”.

The documentary is about a South African con artist, by the name of Brad Bilton, “who trawls Facebook to scam vulnerable women out of thousands. Responding to posts on Traffic News and hijacking alert groups, he claims to be able to find stolen cars for a fee. Desperate victims pay, then realise too late that they’ve been conned”.

At approximately 5.25 minutes into the program, the presenter states: “Victims describe him as intelligent, persuasive, and charming, typical traits it would seem of a con artist”.

Professor Anni Hesselink, a criminologist in the Department of Criminology & Security Science, UNISA, says: “Such a person would be very, very confident, a pathological liar. A very inflated self-esteem. Opportunistic. Ambitious”. Professor Hesselink said a scamster often pretends to have the solution … Read the rest

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Should regulators treat the supplement industry like the tobacco industry?

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Posted 21 December 2015

Scott Gavura, a pharmacist, has posted an excellent article on his blog ‘Science-Based Pharmacy’, in prompted by an article titled “Should states and local governments regulate dietary supplements?” published in the journal, Drug Testing and Analysis. (abstract reproduced below)

He writes:

“The idea that “natural” products are safe and effective has been so effectively marketed to us that many don’t recognize it as a fallacy. Much of the supplement industry is built around an appeal to nature. Supplements are described as natural, gentle, and “holistic”. Medicine, especially prescription drugs, is the opposite. They’re “chemicals”. They’re risky and dangerous – just look at that list of side effects!”.

He states: “Supplement regulation: A travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham” and points out this cautionary tale:

“Claims made about the efficacy Read the rest

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Free “Science Based Medicine” vs “CAM” course available

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Posted 04 December 2015

The James Randi Educational Foundation has produced a superb 10-part video lecture series in which Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

The lectures range from 32 to 45 minutes. A companion course guide is also available.

This course consists of 10 lectures:
1. Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine
2. What Is CAM?
3. Chiropractic
4. Acupuncture
5. Homeopathy
6. Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine
7. Energy Medicine
8. Miscellaneous “Alternatives”
9. Pitfalls in Research
10.Science-Based Medicine in the Media and Politics

From: Consumer Health Digest #15-47, November 29, 2015

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D-day for complementary weight loss medicines?

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On 15 November 2013 the Minister of Health finally published Regulations to the Medicines Act (Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act 101 of 1965), not for comment, but for implementation. They defined complementary medicines for the first time in South Africa. In addition the Regulations incrementally “called up” various complementary medicines over the following six years.

If a product that has been called up, and has not been registered, or an application for registration has not been received by the MCC, then according to the Medicines Act (Section 14(1)) it may no longer be sold.

The Regulations also created a new category of medicines – category D – which are complementary medicines “subdivided into such disciplines as may be determined by the Council after consultation with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa.”

This left “dietary supplements” out in the cold and the Health Products Association … Read the rest

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Why pharmacists should not sell homeopathic medicines

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Posted 27 July 2015

Mr Scott Gavura, a Canadian pharmacist, has written an article criticising Canadian pharmacists for stocking homeopathic medicines alongside conventional medicines.

We have a similar situation here in South Africa.

Mr Gavura ends his article with this powerful admonition: “Pharmacists ought to know better, and they ought to do better. It’s time for the profession to act in the interests of patients. Homeopathy has no place in today’s pharmacy practice.”

The same applies to South African pharmacists.

You can read the full article at:

Mr Gavura also has a facebook page worth looking at:

It should be noted that in South Africa, according to the standards of “Good Pharmacy Practice” (GPP) published by the South African Pharmacy Council, pharmacists  “. . . must not purchase, sell or supply any medicinal product where the pharmacist has any reason to doubt its safety, quality or … Read the rest

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Antiquackery classics posted

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Posted 29 June 2015

Quackwatch has posted the complete texts of two volumes of Nostrums and Quackery: Articles on the Nostrum Evil, Quackery and Allied Matters Affecting the Public Health; Reprinted, With or Without Modifications, from The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Volume I was published in 1912.
Volume II was published in 1921.

The books, which total more than 1,500 pages, are no longer copyrighted.

Some extracts:

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Social and judgmental biases that make inert treatments seem to work

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Posted 10 June 2015

CAM remains, for the most part, “alternative” because its practitioners depend on subjective reckoning and user testimonials rather than scientific research to support what they do. They remain outside the scientific fold because most of their hypothesized mechanisms contradict well-established principles of biology, chemistry or physics. If CAM proponents could produce acceptable evidence to back up their methods, they would no longer be alternative-they would be absorbed by mainstream medicine. 

I accidentally stumbled on this article while researching on another topic, ‘hidden’ in Internet Archive WayBackMachine. The article was written for publication in a special issue of Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (1999). The author, Prof Barry L. Beyerstein, makes a number of arguments that are still pertinent today.

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Safety and quality of herbal supplements

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Posted 13 February 2015

This interesting article written by the pharmacist, Scott Gavura, in 2013 (but still relevant) and posted to Science-Based Medicine, argues that it is unfair to require decent proof that certain medicines are safe, and have efficacy, compared to others, e.g., complementary medicines.

Some extracts that are pertinent.

“And when it comes to ensuring the products we buy are of high quality, we’re all effectively reliant on regulation to protect us. As a pharmacist, I can’t personally verify that each tablet in your prescription contains the active ingredient on the label. I am dependent on a supply chain that may stretch around the world. While the product manufacturer may be reputable, it’s only a regulator that can realistically verify and enforce production to strict quality standards. The same cannot be said for products like supplements and herbs which are regulated differently than drugs, and held to Read the rest

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New York Attorney General targets herbal marketers

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Posted 09 February 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has sent letters ordering GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens to stop selling store-brand herbal products that could not be verified to contain the labeled substance(s), or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on their labels. The products included echinacea, ginseng, and St. John’s wort. The letters were sent because DNA tests performed as part of the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation found that only 21% of the products contained ingredients listed on their labels. Quackwatch has more details plus links to the warning letters. The investigation was triggered by a New York Times report about a Canadian study which found widespread discrepancies between the ingredients listed on the labels of 44 popular products and those found in the products.

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Complementary Medicines – Health Supplements Quality, Safety, Efficacy

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Posted 24 November 2014

The MCC has proposed an additional category, ‘health supplement’, to be included in the definition of a complementary medicine. This category requires to comply with parameters that were to be furnished in a guideline, that would define the requirements for the claims for efficacy, quality, safety, etc. This has now been formally released.  This document, released on the 20th November, is a draft released for comment by 26 February 2015.

“The purpose of this Guideline is to provide clear guidance with regard to the quality, safety and efficacy (QSE) requirements for registration of Health Supplements as a subset of complementary medicines in South Africa. The intent of this document is to ensure that the levels of evidence for QSE are rigorous enough to protect public health and maintain consumer confidence, while providing a clearly defined pathway to register health supplements.”

The document is available here.… Read the rest

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