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From The Cancer Chronicles #22
© July 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

[This landmark bill has changed its numbers several times since we first wrote about it as S-2140. I have substituted the current Senate bill number, S-1035, throughout. For more information on the thinking behind this bill see Berkley Bedell's speech.]

On May 13, [1994] Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD) introduced the Access to Medical Treatment Act (S-1035 formerly S-2140) to the 103rd Congress. This landmark bill would permit any American to be treated by a health care practitioner with any non-toxic method the patient desires.

It is a daring ³freedom of choice² manifesto, introduced at a time when much of the proposed health reform legislation threatens to restrict patients¹ rights.

The bill was inspired by Berkley Bedell, the former Democratic Representative from Iowa who has been a driving force behind the OfÞce of Alternative Medicine (OAM) of the NIH. In 1986, Bedell was forced to leave the US Congress because of Lyme Disease, and later contracted prostate cancer. He has been successfully treated with non-conventional approaches, and is currently well.

In the bill, as introduced, a ³health care practitioner² is deÞned as ³any properly licensed medical doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, or naturopath.² (It is hoped that other alternative specialists, such as acupuncturists and homeopaths, will be added later.)

There are many safeguards in the bill to prevent it from being used to knowingly sell or promote worthless or toxic medicines. The main provisions of S-1035 are as follows:

  • The practitioner agrees to treat the patient with the approaches in question.
  • The administration of the treatment falls within the scope of the doctor¹s practice.
  • There is no evidence that the treatment, when taken as prescribed, presents a danger to the individual.
  • In the case of a food, drug, or device that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the individual would have to be informed of this fact.

    In addition, the food, drug, or device (or the information accompanying it) would have to contain the following strong warning label:

    "This food, drug, or device has not been proved safe and effective by the Federal Government and any individual who uses such food, drug, or device does so at his or her own risk."

    In addition, the willing patient would have to be fully informed about the nature of the new treatment, including its contents; any reasonably foreseeable side effects that may result; and the results of past use of the treatment by health care practitioners. Aside from the information contained in this informed consent form, no claims are to be made as to the treatment¹s efÞcacy. The prospective patient would be required to sign a statement that he or she has been fully informed of the above, and still desires that treatment.

    Practitioners will be allowed to make accurate and truthful statements about the treatment at seminars, conventions or similar meetings, or in recognized scientiÞc journals, provided that the researchers have no Þnancial stake in the treatment other than what they receive for administering it to individual patients.

    On the other hand, the practitioner would be bound to immediately report any adverse side effects to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.


    One important provision for innovative health practitioners is Sec. 6, which states the following: "A licensing board that issues licenses to health care practitioners may not deny, suspend, or revoke the license of a health care practitioner solely because such practitioner provides treatment" covered in this Act. It is not yet clear how this Federal legislation will affect the disciplinary process, most of which is handled at the state level by boards of medical examiners. In any case, the Act will not exempt doctors from the ordinary laws that apply to malpractice or incompetence. In mid-June, this legislation was discussed by the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, chaired by Sen. Edward E. Kennedy (D-MA). There was some talk about attaching this bill to Kennedy¹s health reform proposal. But although at least four Senators highly favorable towards alternative medicine‹Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)‹all sit on that committee, this incorporation did not happen. One knowledgeable source has told us that the main reason was Kennedy¹s desire to expedite his health reform bill in a ³clean² (i.e., unencumbered) form.


    In the Concept Paper in support of the bill, Sen. Daschle points out that the FDA approval process, as currently constituted, strongly discourages innovation. "The time and expense currently required to gain FDA approval of a treatment," he wrote, "works to limit participation in this system to large pharmaceutical companies."

    Nevertheless, in Daschle¹s opinion, the FDA¹s role would not be changed by S-1035. The bill"³would not dismantle or appreciably change the current operations of the FDA or the conventional medical community. The FDA would still have responsibility for certifying treatments as safe and effective," he adds. In addition, "consumer protections are an essential element of the bill." All treatments administered under this legislation must not pose a danger to the patient. The focus of S-1035, quite wisely, is not on any particular drug or method, but on the rights of patients, some of whom are seriously ill or even dying, to receive their treatments of choice. It is meant once and for all to do away with an intolerable situation in which Americans cannot receive certain medications, or are forced to go to unreasonable lengths, flee abroad, or even break the law to receive harmless treatments that possibly could help. Freedom of choice, says the South Dakota Democrat, is one of the bedrock principles upon which our nation rests. This bill¹s purpose is to restore basic democratic rights to the realm of medicine. "This legislation stems from the conviction that an individual suffering from a life-threatening or otherwise serious disease should not be denied access to a non-conventional treatment...."

    Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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