BIG CHANGES AFOOT AT OAM:
SHALALA APPOINTS NEW OAM BOARD;
JACOBS MAY LEAVE SOON

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

[These developments are dealt with in greater detail in the 32 page "1996 Update" to the Equinox Press edition of The Cancer Industry.]

It is a time for big changes at the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM).

On May 17, 1994 Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, PhD sent letters to 18 individuals asking them to serve as members of the first Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC) of the National Institutes of Health. These individuals include not just medical practitioners, but activists who have been outspoken in trying to keep the office to the direction charted by Sen. Tom Harkin in 1991. These patient advocates include: Berkley Bedell (4 year term), Gar Hildenbrand (2 year term), Ralph W. Moss, PhD, (3 year term) and Frank Wiewel (1 year term).

Sources at OAM insist that all 18 appointments are still subject to review and are not final at this time. The Cancer Chronicles will publish the entire official list as soon as it is made available.

At around the same time as the appointments were announced, Joe Jacobs, MD, director of the OAM, informed many colleagues that he was resigning, probably in September. This has not been officially announced, either, but candidates are already putting in applications for Jacob's post.

The appointment of the 18-person advisory council, which replaces the 26-person Ad Hoc Advisory Board, had been the subject of much anticipation. The Ad Hoc board held its last meeting in July, 1993. Since that time, OAM has been without any consistent input from the community. Communication has been mainly informal, or through a few panels and subcommittees, such as the Editorial Board, which (under the leadership of Brian Berman, MD and David Larson, MD) is preparing a massive report on the state of unconventional medicine.

 

BIG JOB FOR AMPAC

The appointment of the new AMPAC board and, sooner or later, a new director, opens up the prospect of greater coordination and cooperation with OAM. One of the big issues that AMPAC will have to confront is what sort of clinical research OAM should carry out. The cancer activists have led the fight for field (or patient outcomes) research into the work of real-life alternative practitioners, and will continue to do so. NIHs tendency has been to concentrate alternative research (and OAM's money) into academic "centers of excellence," in the belief that only big-name universities can win sufficient prestige to gain medical acceptance. In line with that philosophy, OAM (without any board input) gave out 30 grants of $30,000 each, mostly to academics.

It also decided this spring to set aside $1.8 million (more than half its budget) to fund four non-governmental intermediary "exploratory centers," to "see which AM modalities are safe, effective, and appropriate for general patient care in America," according to the OAM's in-house newsletter, AM.

The purpose of these centers is to develop a multidisciplinary research focus in one of three areas: (a) cancer, (b) pain, or (c) another condition or symptom that has a broad impact on health in America. How this is implemented, and what research does not get done because of this focus, is the main issue.At the same time, the idea of actual field research into alternative medicine has been deftly shunted aside.

For example, OAM held a one-day workshop on June 6 devoted to issues of "study design, patient selection, and data collection in clinical research involving cancer." By and large, the conference ignored the whole issue of field trials, and in particular the proposed investigations of the cancer treatments of Emanuel Revici, MD; Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD (antineoplastons); and Charles Simone, MD (shark cartilage).

A trial of antineoplastons has been initiated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the Mayo Clinic, but few if any patients have been enrolled. Following OAM recommendations, the 96-year-old Revici is compiling data on past cases, but there is no prospective study using OAM funding. The Simone study of shark cartilage is on hold. Thus, little is being done to settle the question of whether such treatments really work in alleviating the enormous burden of suffering from cancer.

OCAM list


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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