BIG CHANGES UNDERWAY AT NCI
© 1998 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
February 25, 1998
I have good news to share with you. As of this week, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has removed all of its derogatory statements on alternative and complementary treatments of cancer. Visitors to their CancerNet web site are now informed that "the NCI is currently revising its presentation of information on complementary and alternative approaches to cancer therapy." Inquirers are referred to the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) web site (http://altmed.od.nih.gov). NCI is now working with OAM as well as its own Cancer Information Service to create new and presumably fairer statements.
This is a big victory, which removes a major obstacle to the fair testing of such treatments. It comes at the end of a tumultuous month of Congressional hearings, letters, and phone calls. In the end, NCI director Richard Klausner, M.D. decided to pull the existing statements. I greatly respect Dr. Klausner for the moral courage and leadership he has shown. I believe that NCI is now on the road to real change and look forward to working with them in the future.
One big problem remains, however: the lack of public participation in the evaluation process. There simply cannot be a continuation of the inadequate old ways of evaluating non-conventional treatments. There must be an Oversight or Advisory Board, as all POMES participants agreed, made up of respected individuals from both conventional and alternative medicine. Without this, POMES is doomed to simply repeat the grievous errors of the past. I urge you to use your influence to make sure that the hard-won agreements of August are implemented as an integral part of any treatment evaluation process.
Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.