IOM calls for action on complementary and alternative medicines

More than 33% of adults in the US pursue non-conventional medical treatments, therapies, and techniques. These include acupuncture, herbal remedies, and homeopathy, respectively. In light of this fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened an expert committee to study the extent of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by Americans. In a report released January 12, 2005, the committee recommends:

  • The same standards of effectiveness and safety used for traditional medicines should be applied to CAM. Research on CAM should be strengthened.
  • The safety of dietary supplements should be improved.
  • Research on CAM should expand to include areas such as cost-effectiveness and the use of CAM in practice settings.
  • Research on the implications of integrating CAM and conventional medicine is essential.
  • The curricula of conventional health professional schools should include CAM.
  • Research is needed to identify the breadth of behavioral, social, and cultural factors that affect the use of CAM in the US. This includes how the public gets and uses information about CAM. In addition, criteria are needed to evaluate the reliability and quality of information about CAM.

UCSF School of Pharmacy Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD served as a reviewer for this report. She was interviewed about the report for Science Now, the online companion to Science magazine.

Full report: IOM Report: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.


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