Another Alternative Medicine Critic Speaks

Kristen Sparrow • June 26, 2011

Here is the link to an article by David Colquhoun from Britain. It’s called “America, the land of the Health Hucksters.” I am not familiar with him, and he doesn’t seem to be an MD, but he has very staunch opposition to alternative medicine practitioners. His criticisms seem to break down as follows.
1. Traditional Medicine can’t cure everything, but that’s no reason to adopt fairy tales. We need more research, not alternative medicine.
2. Big Pharma made mistakes and concealed negative data, but hey, no biggie.(Let’s ignore those needless heart attacks from Vioxx, and teen suicides from Prozac, for example.) But it was scientists who discovered the bad studies, so no need to distrust the science or Big Pharma.
3. This paragraph, I simply must copy in its entirety because is so appalling, that I don’t know where to start.
“I write from the perspective of someone who lives in a country that achieves health care for all its citizens at half the cost of the U.S. system, and gets better outcomes in life expectancy and infant mortality. The view from outside is that U.S. medicine rather resembles U.S. religion. It has been taken over by fundamentalists who are becoming very rich by persuading a gullible public to believe things that aren’t true.”
The U.S. is unique among developed nations in that we have for profit health care, that excludes many because of the cost. A majority of bankruptcies in this country are due to healthcare costs, and half of those actually had health insurance. So the religion in question is certainly not alternative medical practitioners, if there is a religion. The religion is for-profit-market-driven health care.
4. Placebo, placebo, placebo.
5. $2billion of taxpayer money for alternative medicine and not one useful treatment. Hookay. I thought he was all about research and the scientific method, and yet when a relatively tiny amount of money is appropriated to explore the bases of alternative practices, it is money ill spent. Does he have any idea how much money is spent on R and D in the pharmaceutical industry to produce drugs that don’t work? Or drugs that make it to the market and then harm instead of help. Please.
6. “This is all very sad for a country that realized quite early that the interests of patients were best served by using treatments that had been shown to work.” His own country’s NICE now pays for acupuncture over other treatments for back pain because it has been shown to work.
7. Alternative Medicine is leading America down, like the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Or are as bad as the torture allowed by Dick Cheney. (No. I’m not making these up. These are his arguments.) And why are we destroying America? Because of the vast amounts of money! Wow. Just wow. Hyperbole much?

So, in apologies for this long post I will limit my questions to Mr.Colquhoun, PhD. , er DR. Colquhoun, with just three questions.
1. Does he realize that just because alternative medicine is a Billion dollar business, that doesn’t mean that individual practitioners make anything close to a billion dollars. Does he have any idea of the individual salary of an acupuncturist or chiropractor?
2. Is he even familiar with the NICE findings and their acceptance of acupuncture cited above?
3. What is in his mouth in the photo?? Is that really a cigarette?? I’ll just leave it there…

(for more info on my practice link here…