Tuesday, April 16, 2019

University Professor Michael Trebilcock and SJD candidate Kanksha Mahadevia Ghimire authored a report on alternative medicines and called for risk-based regulation on certain popular forms of alternative medicine, especially when their use could be life-threatening to patients.

The report “Regulating Alternative Medicines: Disorder in the Borderlands,” was funded by the C.D. Howe Institute and looked at the rise in the use of complementary and alternative medicines in many Western countries, such as naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic medicine, osteopathy, and Western herbal medicine.

Biomedicine, or more commonly referred to as Western medicine, is strictly regulated. The report found the regulation of alternatives “is disconcertingly inconsistent and exists in a patchwork across jurisdictions. Patients may use alternative medicines in conjunction with biomedicine, but may choose to rely solely on alternatives to biomedicine.”

Patient autonomy over their own treatment is, however, the central challenge for regulation.

“Regulation of CAMs should be calibrated to the degree of risk entailed, especially when alternatives are promoted as substitutes for, rather than as complements to, biomedicine in treating potentially life-threatening health conditions,” said Trebilcock.

The report recommends:

  • That regulatory responses should be calibrated to the degree of risk entailed for patients.
  • State-sanctioned forms of delegated self-regulation of certification regimes by practitioners themselves.
  • The creation by government of an overarching advisory body – an alternative medicine advisory council
  • Ensuring that persons responsible are held liable for fraudulent, false or misleading advertisements or claims, tortious liability for negligence or criminal liability for gross negligence.

Read the full release here.

Read the report here (PDF).