An open letter to our supporters and clients:

Date: 07-02-2014

Friday 7 February 2014

The National Institute of Integrative Medicine (NIIM) strongly supports rigorous, independent and scientific evidence-based research in all areas of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Doctors, healthcare professionals and consumers alike want to be empowered to make informed choices about healthcare, including CAM.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by a health supplement company with La Trobe University, to contribute over six years towards a new Complementary Medicine Evidence Centre (CMEC) to undertake ‘independent research into the safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of complementary medicines and nutriceuticals sold in Australia’.

A health academic has resigned from La Trobe University over this new research partnership. He is concerned about ‘fundamental conflicts of interest both for the proposed CMEC and the staff involved’. Yet our Universities are full of research projects that receive funding from many sources.

According to Medicines Australia, about 65 percent of clinical trials are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Should all this research also be immediately halted? A leading Australian university quotes: ‘We have strong partnerships with industry leaders, including global drug companies…In total, we have long-term collaborative research programs with more than 20 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.’

La Trobe University is taking the lead, and is seeking investment from various sources to perform independent, scientific evidence-based research into CAM. This health academic and proponent of Friends of Science in Medicine, who strongly objects to complementary medicine disciplines being taught in Universities and dismisses CAM as having a lack of evidence, also ironically is attempting to obstruct this research from taking place.

Integrative medical doctors, associations and the community with an interest in CAM applaud more funding for research, in order to integrate all evidence-based medicines, treatments and therapies into the mainstream, as well as increased university-based education for healthcare practitioners.

The CMEC proposed at La Trobe is a unique initiative. Universities and institutes have difficulty receiving funding to test products such as health supplements that cannot be patented, and hence do not offer the financial returns that frequently come from research on patented products, such as pharmaceutically promoted drugs.

NIIM has an ongoing interest in evidence-based practice, and has working relationships with several national university research departments. Since its inception, NIIM has made valuable contributions to research into specific foods, nutrition, and chronic illness. All NIIM research is approved by an independent NHMRC registered ethics committee. NIIM is also engaged in research into emerging health technologies and the introduction of evidence-based treatments, currently only available internationally, for the benefit of the Australian public.

Sincerely,

Stephen Bunce
General Manager
National Institute of Integrative Medicine

Dr Karin Ried
Research Director
National Institute of Integrative Medicine