TO STUDY ALTERNATIVES
From The Cancer Chronicles #12
© Oct. 1992 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
[A first attempt to make sense of the Office of Alternative Medicine
On June 17 and 18 , an unprecedented
meeting took place at the government's National Institutes of Health (NIH)
in Bethesda, MD. NIH invited supporters of alternative medicine to present
their views and many interested parties spoke at the historic meeting, including
the editor of this newsletter. What has possessed NIH, the bastion of orthodoxy,
to call such a meeting and form a permanent office to investigate even
the most far-out medical alternatives? Many readers will remember that in
1986, 43 Congressmen asked the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)
for a full-scale report on cancer alternatives. While this 1990 report was
generally a disappointment, the OTA did recommend that National Cancer Institute
(NCI) pursue research into "widely used unconventional cancer treatments
for therapeutic potential." NCI arrogantly rejected the request and
stonewalled for over a year.
In 1987, Rep. Berkley Bedell was treated for prostate cancer. When his
cancer showed signs of recurring, he turned to a non-toxic drug, '714-X'
from a Canadian, Gaston Naessens. Bedell credits his current good health
to this treatment. Bedell was a six-term Congressman from Iowa. He is also
a friend of Sen. Tom Harkin, head of the Appropriations committee that oversees
NIH's budget. Last year Bedell lobbied Congress on behalf of Harkin's proposal
for a $2 million Office of Alternative Medicine. In November, 1991
the measure was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George
"Though just a drop in the bucket by federal budget standards, the
office is a symbol of the new visibility being won by medical treatments
that haven't gained mainstream approval," wrote the Congressional Quarterly
The June meeting was opened by Dr. Jay Moskowitz, associate director
of NIH and expertly chaired by Dr. Stephen Groft. There was none of the
official hostility that marked the chilly OTA hearings of 19891990.
The September meeting of the committee will be a two day workshop to be held
in Virginia. The editor of this newsletter has agreed to serve as co-chair
of the work group on Pharmacological and Biological Treatments. Certainly,
there will be serious struggles ahead on the direction of the committee.
But this appears to be a good first step towards a fair hearing for non-toxic
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