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IAMI BEACH, Fla. — The new heart patient asked Dr. Gervasio Lamas if he thought chelation therapy was worth a try. “Of course not!” the cardiologist replied emphatically. His Harvard training had taught him that alternative therapies were a waste of time and money, and potentially risky to boot. “I told him it was quackery.”

But Lamas went home that night unsure if he had given his patient the best medical advice. He looked up research on chelation therapy, which removes heavy metals from the body, and found very little data either supporting or contradicting the procedure.

Lamas was troubled by the idea that he had offered this man a medical opinion that wasn’t supported by science. And he decided to conduct a study himself. He had no idea what he was getting into.

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Seventeen years later, his research into a therapy many of his colleagues consider bunk has earned him scorn and sideways glances at medical meetings. Some accuse him of wasting taxpayer money. But Lamas persevered — even briefly taking out a second mortgage on his house to help pay for a clinical trial.

Three years ago, he announced results of that $30 million study: Chelation was safe and potentially helpful. The conclusion shocked the mainstream medical world, including Lamas. After all, the procedure had been so discredited that doctors previously could lose their medical licenses for using it.

Now, he’s launching a second trial, with $37 million from the National Institutes of Health, to study chelation’s effect on diabetics with heart disease. That’s not sitting well with some scientists.

Steven L. Salzberg, director of the Center for Computational Biology at Johns Hopkins University, said it’s “just crazy” to do another trial. “There are better ways to use this money to study much more promising treatments of all sorts,” he said.

Salzberg, who writes the Fighting Pseudoscience blog on Forbes.com, said the history of science is littered with studies that began with good intentions or were conducted by nice people, but were still bad ideas. “There are many legitimate MDs who’ve come up with theories that were just wrong, but clung to them, despite all the evidence to the contrary,” Salzberg said. “I wouldn’t put them in jail, but I’m not going to give them $37 million.”

For his part, Lamas said he has learned to ignore the critics and just follows the evidence. If the study had shown chelation to be completely useless, he would have believed the results. So why shouldn’t he believe the data now?

Lamas, chair of medicine and chief of cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center Miami Beach, was wounded by the sharp criticism at first. “I used to get sensitive to that stuff,” he said.

But he’s more comfortable now, and says he feels more accepted by his peers. He compares himself to a friend who suddenly starts wearing an odd hat. At first, all you notice about him is the hat — wondering why he’s wearing it. Eventually, the hat just becomes part of the friend, and you say, “That’s a nice hat, where did you get it?” Lamas said.

His colleagues aren’t rushing out to buy their own hats, though. Nobody else is willing to study chelation. Conventional doctors still think it’s junk medicine. Alternative medicine practitioners are happy to have the scientific support, but don’t find it necessary. And drug companies can’t make money on a therapy that had been off patent for decades.

Without Lamas, said his collaborator, Dr. Daniel Mark of Duke University Medical Center, there would be no one looking for answers.

An unlikely champion

Lamas, 64, is an unlikely champion of medicine outside the mainstream. His career has been as conventional — and accomplished — as virtually any of his peers.

Born in Cuba, Lamas arrived in the United States at age 8 speaking no English. But he caught up fast. He went to Harvard for his undergraduate degree and then to New York University for medical school. He trained at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and stayed at the Harvard-affiliated hospital for 15 years, building his reputation before leaving for Miami in 1993.

He counts as close friends some of the most respected names in cardiology.

Dr. Judith Hochman, now a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, was a resident at the Brigham when Lamas, fresh out of medical school, was assigned to be her intern. She appreciated that he didn’t need much supervision — “he was a whiz kid” — and treated her respectfully at a time when women were a clear minority in medicine.

Hochman scoffs at Lamas’s critics. “He’s an outstanding physician and an outstanding scientist, who adheres to the highest ethical standards,” she said. “He’s not one of these types who’s a zealot for x or y or is committed to any particular therapy.”

Colleagues describe Lamas, whom they call Tony, as funny, charming, and unfailingly polite — and two said he dances well. (The compliment made Lamas laugh. He only looks good when salsa dancing, he said, because those colleagues can’t do it at all.)

Lamas’s former mentor Dr. Marc Pfeffer, a cardiologist at the Brigham and Harvard Medical School, thinks chelation is more magic than medicine, but said his friend’s research is important because so many people are using the therapy on their own “without the evidence.”

“He had the interest and the curiosity, which most doctors unfortunately don’t have. And he put his career on the line to some extent.”

Dr. Allan Magaziner on Lamas

According to federal survey data, 66,000 people used chelation for all purposes (not just heart disease) in 2002, and 111,000 used it in 2007, the last year for which there is reliable information.

At the Brigham, Lamas was known as “the pacemaker guy” — he spent most of his research time designing pacemaker studies. He couldn’t have done a trial looking at heart failure, “because there was a guy whose career depended on that,” Lamas said. Feeling boxed in, he moved to Miami. He said he also wanted to be closer to his aging father — a doctor, too — and to run his own department: “Sometimes you have to leave home.”

In academic careers, physicians are rewarded for excelling at research; seeing patients is extra. In the life Lamas has carved for himself in Miami, seeing patients comes first.

“For a clinical scientist, you have to have a patient population to understand what the problem is,” he said, sitting in his large, but spare, office, its white walls decorated mainly with his diplomas and awards.

He’s built a strong rapport with his patients. Many academic doctors never think to ask their patients about alternative therapies, and patients don’t feel comfortable revealing them. Lamas’s patients did.

Lamas’ daughter, Daniela, a pulmonologist and critical care doctor at the Brigham, said her father is driven by curiosity and genuine concern for patients, and takes interest in their lives. “It’s not just a job, but part of who he is,” she said.

On a recent day, one older couple drove 45 minutes from Hialeah to Miami to see Lamas, though there’s a Mt. Sinai-affiliated clinic in their town. The doctor tried to convince the man to see a cardiologist closer to home, but he wouldn’t hear of seeing anyone but Lamas.

“I have only one life. I have to take care of that one,” the man insisted.

Speaking his native Spanish, Lamas told the man he needed to dial back on his beloved Cuban food.

“It’s the best. It’s the worst, too,” the man responded in English, nodding.

The last patient of the morning was the first of the day who also had diabetes and therefore was a good candidate for the new chelation therapy trial, called TACT2. A researcher came in after Lamas’s consultation and provided information about the study, speaking in carefully learned Spanish.

The patient’s daughter seemed dubious. She worried aloud about having to drive him to the 40 required appointments, each lasting three hours, while juggling her kids’ schedule. The trial will pay for taxis, the researcher assured her. But she still wasn’t convinced. She wanted to show the study material to her pharmacist husband. And she worried about her father getting bored.

Making a giant clinical trial work is part science, part human relations. Lamas, colleagues said, has been incredibly successful at getting patients and fellow doctors to sign on to the two TACT trials.

Lamas was “masterful” in getting mainstream and alternative doctors to work together on the first trial when both were convinced the other was dead wrong, said Mark, a co-principal investigator on both studies. “Talk about a Herculean task,” he said. “This is about as Herculean as it gets.”

Allan Magaziner, a doctor of osteopathic medicine in Cherry Hill, N.J., who has been involved in TACT since the beginning, said he was impressed that Lamas was willing to think outside the box. “He had the interest and the curiosity, which most doctors unfortunately don’t have,” he said of Lamas. “And he put his career on the line to some extent.”

Mark, director of outcomes research at Duke University Medical Center, compared Lamas to Captain Picard, the captain on the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” who gets his crew fired up to face whatever is coming next. Like him, Mark said, Lamas “convinces people they want to be on his team.”

Dr. Gervasio Lamas
Lamas is the chair of medicine and chief of cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center Miami Beach. Scott McIntyre for STAT

Not a zealot

Lamas started the TACT1 trial certain he knew what it would show. He hoped chelation wasn’t dangerous, but he wanted to be able to tell patients with confidence that it was also a waste of their time and money.

Chelation works — if it does — by magnetically latching onto heavy metals sequestered in cells, and flushing them out of the body through the urine. Back in the 1950s when it was first used to treat heart disease, chelation was thought to remove calcium, deposits of which can restrict blood flow through vessels.

Now, Lamas thinks the EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid) chelation drug he uses, a synthetic amino acid that is delivered intravenously, goes after lead and cadmium instead. In one small pilot trial, a patient secreted 3,800 percent more lead the day after an EDTA infusion than the day before, he said.

Cadmium and lead can damage the circulatory system in a number of ways, including by inactivating the body’s antioxidant defenses and damaging the cells that line the blood vessels.

For seven years, Lamas and his colleagues were “blinded” to the results they were collecting, unaware of which of the 1,700 patients had gotten chelation therapy in addition to their conventional treatments for four months, and which had been infused essentially with saltwater.

The trial faced repeated challenges, from an investigation into whether patients were adequately safeguarded against a treatment that conventional doctors considered dangerous to a public call for its abandonment from a group of fellow doctors.

The unveiling of results at a meeting in 2013 shocked everyone. A picture taken afterward shows a roomful of stunned faces. Chelation was safe, the study revealed. And it also seemed to be effective.

Overall, patients getting the active therapy had “modestly” fewer heart attacks and needed fewer bypass surgeries and hospitalizations for chest pain than those getting the saltwater placebo, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. When the researchers drilled down into their data, they realized that the patients who had both diabetes and heart disease saw all the benefits. Among the 633 test subjects with diabetes, there was a 41 percent reduction in cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, over as long as five years.

The trial’s results were received with a hail of criticism. One of the country’s leading cardiologists said it was flawed and a waste of money.

“I see this as $31 million in taxpayer money that did not yield a result that was reliable,” Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said at the time. “Doing a poor study is worse than doing no study at all.”

Critics said the study was the result of political lobbying on the part of chelation practitioners, and noted that there was no scientific rationale to do the research. The study also relied on clinics that offered chelation — which critics don’t consider proper medical facilities. These clinics also had a financial interest in a positive outcome, and had no experience conducting clinical trials.

Two months later, the Food and Drug Administration called Lamas in to present his results. Agency officials told him that the next step was to do another trial, to see whether chelation genuinely helped diabetics. After spending a decade on the previous trial, Lamas joked that the FDA’s suggestion left him with two options: “My choice was to slice my veins on their conference table or say, ‘Thank you, what a good idea.’ I chose the latter.”

Trial and failure

Despite the time, effort, and money, the initial trial hasn’t had much of an impact. Few mainstream doctors have changed their minds about chelation, and alternative medicine therapists apparently haven’t stopped using it in patients without diabetes — though the trial found essentially no benefit in the broader heart disease population.

At one level, that’s the way it should be. No single scientific study can be considered the truth. Findings must be repeated to be confirmed.

It is the TACT2 trial that should change medical practice when it is finished in five years. If the trial shows no benefit for diabetics, mainstream cardiologists will see it as confirmation of what they’ve believed all along. They’ll be done with chelation forever. (Alternative practitioners, for their part, should stop delivering chelation for all heart disease if the second trial fails, though they likely won’t.)

If, however, it confirms the effectiveness of chelation for patients with both diabetes and heart disease, then mainstream doctors would be remiss in not at least considering a treatment that would be as or more effective than any drug on the market for the vascular complications of diabetes, Lamas said.

“This is a very striking signal that there might be something happening here,” Dr. Josephine Briggs, a kidney specialist and director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, said of the result of the first trial. But she remains skeptical about chelation: “We really need an answer that is clear-cut.”

Her center funds research into complementary medicine and is one of the government agencies that has supported both trials (along with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).

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Until the results are in, though, Briggs thinks patients should avoid chelation outside of the trial.

“I’m a pretty conventional conservative practitioner. I would never have recommended this,” she said. “This is still a therapy that is not yet proven enough for diabetics and particularly not for non-diabetics.”

Practitioners who use chelation disagree. Tammy Born, an osteopathic family physician who said she treats 30 to 50 patients a day with chelation in her Grand Rapids, Mich., clinic, said the trial encouraged her to start trying chelation earlier, rather than waiting until heart disease is advanced. “I firmly believe in it,” said Born, who has used chelation for decades and charges $90 an infusion, or $1,800 for a course of 20.

“I loved seeing Dr. Lamas’s transformation,” she added. “What I have appreciated about him is he went into this trying to disprove chelation, and when he saw the results and talked to the patients … he said why didn’t we do this all the time?”

For his part, Lamas said the results of the initial trial made him wonder whether there are other alternative therapies out there, dismissed by mainstream medicine, that could be saving lives.

“But that’s for somebody else to figure out,” he said.

His main goal now, he added, is to finish the second study: “I need to see the end of this story.”

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  • This is potentially more interesting than what shows on the outside. If a patient with both diabetes and heart disease doesn’t have a repository of lead and or cadmium stored in his/her body, how else could chelation help? If they have a buildup of say aluminum, mercury, molybdenum, radium or any of many other toxic metals or elements, some other treatment could help them as well.

  • Chelation is sound science. It must be supported properly and well supervised. There are extremely competent “alternative” providers, including naturopathic and other functional medicine doctors who have been successfully doing this for several years. I’ve had it done, seen it help many others regain their health, and have found it to be extremely safe.

    Now, can we please use it to help the poor people of Flint, Michigan and other communities contaminated by lead? And people contaminated by mercury left by big polluters in their local river or stream? And cancer patients poisoned by platinum?

    It might just raise children’s IQs, help them avoid mental health problems and incarceration and help people avoid cancer, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases linked to toxic exposures.

    Kudos to Dr. L for his bravery, now maybe everyone can get comfortable with new hats and people can be cured.

    And to the naysayers, why do you not go shouting as loudly about tremendously damaging expensive newfangled cancer treatments that are questionable at saving people’s lives and protecting their quality of life? There’s a double standard here, with the way paved, by greed, corruption, power and ego. This just serves to needlessly prolong suffering. Maybe one day you’ll get poisoned, and need chelation too…then maybe you’ll change your arrogant closed minds.

  • Ms. Weintraub quoted me and Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic in her article, both of us expressing strong skepticism in the results of the TACT study. Unfortunately, she seems to have used us as token voices of opposition, in that she didn’t provide any details of the reasons for our skepticism, though the reasons are numerous and deep. For example, she didn’t mention that many of the centers recruited by Lamas for his study are little more than quack clinics offering an array of bogus therapies. (See http://doctorrw.blogspot.com/2006/10/nccam-chelation-study-site-tour-part.html for a partial list of some of the problematic sites.) She also failed to mention that the TACT study results by no means “shocked” the establish, because the results were very, very weak – most of the measures showed no benefit, and it’s highly dubious that any of the observed effect (which was only in a subgroup) was real, especially given the methodological problems with the trial.
    Dr. Lamas is no hero. He is an opportunist who has successfully lobbied for a multi-million dollar grant. Meanwhile, other worthwhile projects will not get funded and the public is the big loser in this. It’s sad to see STATnews publish such an adoring, uncritical article about a poorly conceived and executed study.

    • The National Center for Magical Thinking or whatever it’s called now, formerly NCCAM, formerly OAM, has spent, I think, something like $1.3bn to date trying to validate alternative treatments.

      To date, as far as I can tell, not one single treatment investigated by their funding, has proven to be worthwhile. There is a small plus in that they won’t even talk to homeopaths any more, so there is some residual level of empirical reality at the top, but only funding the stuff that is not known by every sane person to be utterly ridiculous is not really much of an endorsement.

    • While Guy Chapman defames homeopathy, he avoids any criticism of allopathy. Recent research and news articles have shown half of medical treatments to be ineffective as The Washington Post revealed in, “Surprise! We Don’t Know If Half Our Medical Treatments Work,” which reported on an editorial in the British Medical Journal titled, “Nuts, Bolts, and Tiny Little Screws: How Clinical Evidence Works.”
      Not surprising, Chapman and Salzberg have yet to comment on the revelation that two-thirds of the 3,000 medical treatments reviewed by the BMJ were found to be ineffective, unproven or too dangerous to use. Nor have they discussed the need for healthcare reform or the outrageous costs of medical care.
      Nor do they discuss the relative malpractice rates paid by MDs compared to non-MDs.
      Chapman’s defense of allopathy and his inability to give CAM any credibility speaks of his medical chauvinism, similar to propagandists who are quick to condemn others without casting the same aspersions on their own profession.
      As Donald Twump might say, “How sad.”

    • Guy,

      What a great opening! This is fantastic!

      Thyroid is a seemingly simple issue, with ample research, including many studies demonstrating that a subset of patients does not respond to levothyroxine treatment, as they do not properly convert T4 to T3.

      In its wisdom, your government contracted with only one provider of liothryonine, which is cheap and widely available in almost every country EXCEPT yours. That manufacturer jacked up the price about 40x last year.

      What did your government do then? Well, in an extraordinary cost saving measure, rather than shopping around for competitive bids from a myriad of other manufacturers, they chose to turn a blind eye to the science and declared that levothyroxine is the only acceptable treatment, and has been council by council, setting out policy refusing to fill liothryonine prescriptions or test free T3, the best test for determining if conversion is taking place.

      And, to add insult to injury, where most labs in the US have lowered the high end of the TSH range to 2.5-3 due to the realization that they’d previously been counting sick patients in the normal range, the UK is using 5-10 as the normal range.

      This leaves thousands of patients untreated or undertreated and heading to obesity and many serious and expensive health problems. The Thyroid UK website is filled with details of these patients’ health struggles.

      Very cost saving indeed, especially as these patient’s problems escalate. Makes me want to be a thyroid patient over in you country where you have things so well in hand.

      So, here’s a case where solid science is taking a back seat to politics and the arrogance of powerful doctors with an agenda.

      And there are all sorts of political and financial agendas in healthcare.

      What happened to doctors treating the patients in front of them with their experience and best judgement?

    • Funny how when an “alternative” treatment has an effect of the same magnitude as statins, it is derided as useless, while the same people laud the statins as something everyone should be on.

  • Nice to read about a brave MD willing to oppose medical dogmatists such as Steven L. Salzberg, a renowned medical bigot. Considering medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the US, why hasn’t Salzberg and other MDs taken a hard-line against Big Pharma and mainstream medicine instead of casting aspersions against CAM treatments?

    • Being “brave” enough to oppose “medical dogmatists” has no bearing on the effectiveness or safety of the procedure studied.
      Whether critics take a hard stance on mainstream medicine or not, has no bearing on the effectiveness or safety of the procedure studied.
      And do you realize, that studying the CAM treatment, if found safe and effective, means it’s not CAM anymore, but would become mainstream?
      Basically your comment boils down to: studied “mainstream” medicine is not perfect, so let’s use unstudied practices instead, before we know if they’re safe(r) or effective.

    • And, isn’t that exactly how the practice of nedicine has evolved over the past two centuries?

      Unproven techniques are heroically used every day in the interest of saving lives or increasing quality of life.

      Thoughtful trials of new ideas is how the field of medicine evolves.

    • To “Someone” who won’t reveal his/her name: “And do you realize, that studying the CAM treatment, if found safe and effective, means it’s not CAM anymore, but would become mainstream?”
      Your assumptions is laughable and naive–obviously you know nothing of the medical war against CAM, particularly chiropractic.
      Let me enlighten you with my article, “Why I’m Skeptical of Skeptics” @http://chiropractorsforfairjournalism.com/Skeptics_Down_Under.html

    • The thing is, this “brave” MD was part of one of the most ethically-challenged trials I have ever seen (it even included people who have been convicted of fraud), of a treatment he was selling even though there was no evidence for it and no plausible way it could work.

      The TACT trial showed that, as expected, chelation does *not* work, for the vast majority of all patients to whom it has been sold. And that’#s kind of important because it’s quite a serious treatment with some pretty toxic chemicals. There are risks. People – including children – have died.

      The response was exactly the kind of statistical sleight of hand for which Big Pharma is justly criticised. An overall negative result, but by cherry-picking subgroups, a statistical artifact was found that passed P=0.05 – P-hacking, as it’s known.

      So, how is that ethical? Using a risky treatment without evidence and on the basis of no plausible mechanism, conducting a trial using unethical centres, and then carrying right on when the result is not what you want? Isn’t that *exactly* what you think is wrong with reality-based medicine?

  • He definitely earned the scorn, but the grant was not earned as such, more the result of assiduous lobbying.

    When a $30m trial of a treatment with no plausible mechanism finds no effect, but a post-hoc subgroup analysis finds one arbitrary group that passes P=0.05, the correct response is: go away and come back when you have solid primary research.

    The quackademic response is: give me more money for another trial.

    Guess which one he did?

  • All I require is good evidence. This would be a first– good evidence of efficacy for an “alternative” medical treatment. Which by definition would mean chelation would no longer be an “alternative” treatment.

    • TACT was marked by some of the most egregious investigators I have ever seen involved in a clinical trial, including outright frauds. Hopefully TACT2 will be less appalling, but I won’t bet on it.

    • I guess it depends on (a) whether their patients were diabetic; (b) whether TACT2 delivers the result the chelationists hope for; and (c) whether the law changes to allow use of implausible treatments before there is any evidence base at all.

      That’s a no, by the way.

  • Fascinating article. The reason patients turn to functional, holistic, complementary and alternative medicine is that after being sick and tired for so long, when they hear of other treatment approaches that are helping some people they know recover, they decide they would rather be in leading edge than lagging medicine. The evidence they care most about is their own health – which they weigh more heavily than medical journals and guidelines recommendations. In the process, they learn there is still a good bit of the guild system in medicine and dentistry, along with regulatory capture in agencies, and that non-patented solutions can be effective at reasonable cost.

    Perhaps ACOs and health insurers should join NIH in funding such research.

    • No, people turn to alternative modalities with Orwellian branding like “functional” and “holistic” because the quacks who practice them consistently get away with making false claims without any consequences whatsoever.

    • to Guy Chapman: if CAM is Orwellian branding, what do you call mainstream medicine that is the third-leading cause of death according to BMJ? If CAM is bunk, why did David Eisenberg from Harvard find people made more visits to CAM providers than MDs? Perhaps if Big Pharma didn’t pay for 1.3 million ads each year espousing the “pill for every ill” mindset, perhaps taking care of oneself naturally would be even more popular. Indeed, Guy Chapman, considering the US has the worst health stats according to the Commonwealth Fund, can you say “mainstream medicine” is effective other than being the massive medical monopoly that has brought the US to the brink of bankruptcy? Methinks you are blinded by prejudice and self-serving economics.

    • Medicine is not the third leading cause of death, at least not if you use anything close to rational criteria. The “death by medicine” crowd count every death under medical care as being caused by medicine, but forget to allow for any benefit (largely because they don’t believe in it, I think).

      For example, a patient presenting with ruptured aortic aneurysm who dies on the table will be presented as “death by medicine”, whereas in reality this is very high risk surgery that converts a 100% chance of death into a 50/50 chance of survival.

      People go to SCAM providers for a number of reasons. Usually the people in question are the “worried well”, SCAM’s core market. They probably know that they are not actually ill, so they don’t want a real treatment, they mainly want tea and sympathy, which SCAM providers do. Sadly the providers accompany this with a load of refuted nonsense like homeopathy and reiki.

      There’s also the question of what makes a SCAM provider. Massage is a perfectly legitimate physical therapy, but this and many other legitimate complementary therapies have been suborned by the SCAM world to try to provide a halo effect and obscure the fact that the real payload is alternative – as evidence-free and mainly refuted – treatments.

    • Incidentally, it is not clear to me how econ,mics could be self-serving in my case. I live in a civilised country, healthcare here is free on demand at the point of delivery. There’s no incentive to see a cheap quack rather than an expensive doctor. Rather the opposite, in fact.

    • According to self-anointed expert, Guy Chapman, “Medicine is not the third leading cause of death, at least not if you use anything close to rational criteria.”
      Methinks the editors of the British Medical Journal would disagree with your assessment.
      As you and Steven Salzberg have shown, objectivity toward non-allopathic professions is outside your scope of reasoning–the typical medical chauvinism that has led to the medical monopoly that has not only led Americans to the brink of bankruptcy, but has led our country to the worst health stats according to the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally.”
      When will these medical bigots admit “modern medicine” outside of the emergency room is riff with problems? Let’s start with the epidemic of opioids that don’t kill pain, but they do kill people.

    • No they would not. The BMJ article actually specifically says it should not be interpreted as you interpret it.

      Your ad-hominem response is characteristic of SCAM proponents, but entirely without foundation. There is no credible reason why something that provably works would not be accepted by medical science (just look at current research into cannabinoids for example). The problem with SCAM is that when a scientific test is done, and ta claim is shown to be false, those making the claim refuse to accept it.

      Medicine tests treatments and discards them if they don’t work. The vast majority of all molecules that enter testing, do not make it to market, and treatments are removed all the time, not just drugs but also things like knee washout surgery, that are shown to be ineffective.

      SCAM, by contrast, has no mechanism for self-correction, and in fact rejects any evidence of error with quasi-religious fervour.

    • I am all for the US improving its health system. It could follow the model of the UK, for example. The UK spends around 40% as much as the US, per capita, and gets universal coverage for that.

      And we have NICE to check the evidence for treatments and ensure that those which work get funded, and those which don’t, don’t. Their criteria are clinical not scientific, so there are a few implausible treatments retained on the basis of weak evidence for a few conditions, but for the most part their approach is reasonably robust.

    • Guy Chapman seems to live in his own world of make-believe: he denies both articles by the BMJ, he misrepresents CAM, and he ignores the failings of the allopathic profession. He also is naive about the creation of the medical monopoly and its ineffectiveness as the Commonwealth Fund indicated. So tell us, Mr. Chapman, why is America ranked worst in healthcare stats, worst in costs, and yet MDs are the best paid? If this is not the sign of a monopoly, what is? Also, please tell us who you are–another stooge from the Friends of Science, aka, medical bigots @http://chiropractorsforfairjournalism.com/The_Medical_GoodFellas.html

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