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.
Voelker R. IOM Points to Need for More Research, Regulation in Alternative Medicine. JAMA. 2005;293(10):1178–1180. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1178