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JAMA NetSight: A Guide to Interactive Medicine
November 11, 1998

Researching Alternatives

Author Affiliations

From Medsite Communications Corp, Boston, Mass (Dr Peters, e-mail: richard@mednav.com; Dr Sikorski, e-mail: bob@mednav.com).


Edited by William M. Silberg, Editorial Director, New Media Office, AMA Scientific Information and Multimedia Group.

JAMA. 1998;280(18):1631. doi:10.1001/jama.280.18.1631

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted .—Albert Einstein

A patient with metastatic melanoma in remission comes to his oncologist for a routine follow-up examination. He is pleased to find no evidence of tumor. However, as he is leaving the office, he stops the physician, saying he had recently heard a report in the news about the use of "something called ginkgo for increasing your memory." He asks, "What do you think doctor? Does it really work?" Patient questions like this one are increasingly common in physicians' offices. Public interest in the use of nontraditional or "alternative" therapies continues to increase.1 Unfortunately, many such treatments have not been tested under the rigorous scientific standards required of pharmaceuticals under consideration for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Rockville, Md.

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