Government Reform and Oversight Committee
February 12, 1998
Representative Jim Moran (R-VA)
Thank you for holding this hearing today on patient access to alternative
medical treatments. This is an important issue, and I hope that this hearing
will help focus attention on the need to reexamine our policies with regard
to alternative medical treatments.
Like many of the people who are involved with this issue, I support access
to alternative medical treatments. My views on this have been supported
by the experience that my wife and I have had with our daughter Dorothy,
who suffered from medulloblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer.
When she was first diagnosed, she was 3 years old and was given a 20 percent
chance of surviving until her 5th birthday. Dorothy's 20 percent chance
of survival was contingent upon undergoing all available conventional treatments,
including chemotherapy and radiation.
Like all parents who face this unbelievable, horrific news, my wife and
I spent every moment that we could learning about the effects of chemotherapy
and radiation. We examined what other treatments we might be able to pursue
for Dorothy that could help her beat the terrible odds she was facing. My
wife, after literally hundreds of hours of research and assistance from
medical professionals, developed a vitamin and nutritional supplement program
for Dorothy that not only helped her withstand chemotherapy, but also bought
us some time to strengthen Dorothy and wait until she was a little older
before undergoing radiation treatments, which can have very detrimental
impacts on young children.
Dorothy is now 6 years old. She is cancer-free and has been for many
months now. I can't say for sure what part of Dorothy's treatment worked
and helped her beat those initial odds. I don't think she would be alive
today without radiation and chemotherapy, and I strongly believe that no
patient should ever forego conventional treatment. But, I do think that
the vitamin and nutritional supplement program helped Dorothy, and I think
every parent of a child facing a serious illness should be able to make
the kinds of choices we made about pursuing alternative and complimentary
I don't know what the future holds. But I do know that we've gotten this
far by being vigilant and aggressive health care consumers, by pursuing
alternative therapies to help strengthen our daughter, improve her health,
and help her endure the battle against cancer.
I am here today, because I know that our story is not unique. I have
heard from thousands of people across the country who face similar situations,
but who are not fortunate enough to have access to physicians who can help
them seek alternative treatments, or who live in states, like California,
where it is illegal for a doctor to treat cancer with anything except chemotherapy,
radiation or surgery. These people are desperate because they are fighting
a terminal illness and conventional treatments are failing them, and so
is the medical establishment.
State governments that restrict access to treatment fail their citizens.
The federal government also fails to help these individuals by refusing
to allow those facing life-threatening illnesses to choose a treatment that
is experimental or has not yet been approved by the FDA. We fail them by
restricting the ability of physicians to discuss alternative treatments
with their patients.
I appreciate the incredibly difficult job that the FDA has in approving
drugs and medical devices. The time that is taken to review these products
helps to ensure that, once approved, they are completely safe for human
use and live up to their promises. The length of the approval process, however,
also has negative consequences. Individual practitioners, scientists, smaller
companies and others who do not have the financial resources or the expertise
to complete the arduous FDA approval process are prevented from gaining
access to the market.
Does that mean that individuals facing a life-threatening illness, who
learn of a potential effective treatment, should be denied access to this
treatment because it has not yet been approved by the FDA? I don't think
so. I think people facing life-threatening illnesses should be able to consult
with their physicians and make an informed choice about alternative treatments.
Several surveys show that individuals facing life-threatening illnesses
already do this, despite roadblocks and barriers. A recent survey showed
that about half of all cancer patients use an alternative cancer therapy
for the treatment of their illness. Finding and using these options is difficult
and risky. A child or adult with advanced cancer will often seek out advice
from popular magazines, friends, health food stores, and go to foreign countries
in a haphazard and expensive manner in order to seek effective treatment.
Despite the fact that the United States leads the world in exceptional
medical care, the current system excludes the development and utilization
of non-harmful alternative medical treatments that may help patients and
generate new approaches to treating illnesses. I support Congressman DeFazio's
bill, the Access to Medical Treatment Act, because it will help to open
up the system to the utilization of new alternative treatments and allow
physicians to discuss these treatments openly with their patients.
As a parent and a legislator, I believe that this is the appropriate
direction to take to help benefit individuals who face life-threatening
illnesses and who desire access to all possible treatments and potentially
Thank you again for holding this hearing and giving me the opportunity
Article on First Day of Hearings
Testimony of 2/12/98
Testimony of 2/4/98
Moss's Editorial on Hearings
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