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Medical News and Perspectives
March 9, 2005

IOM Points to Need for More Research, Regulation in Alternative Medicine

JAMA. 2005;293(10):1178-1180. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1178

An ongoing controversy surrounding alternative medicine has centered on how various therapies should be evaluated if they do not lend themselves to the gold standard of study designs, the randomized controlled trial (RCT). But in a recent report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has suggested that a number of “innovative” approaches toward the evaluation of alternative treatments can yield useful evidence that, at least in some cases, is on par with results from RCTs.

Regardless of the study design, however, the report recommends that alternative and conventional treatments should be subject to the same standards for clinical effectiveness as conventional medicine. In addition, the report calls on Congress, industry representatives, and clinicians who use alternative and conventional therapies to work together in amending current legislation that regulates dietary supplements as foods rather than drugs.

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