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Legalize Alternative Medicine

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A BIPARTISAN bill introduced in both the Senate and House would allow consumers to use treatments not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Access to Medical Treatment Act is needed to stop the legal harassment many alternative practitioners face from the FDA and state medical boards, says Candace Campbell, executive director of the American Preventive Medical Association.

For example, the bill would help end a Texas physician's 12-year battle with the FDA. Stanislaw Burzynski, a physician who immigrated from Poland to pursue innovative cancer treatments, has been indicted for treating patients with a nonapproved drug. Patients have testified on Dr. Burzynski's behalf, citing anecdotal evidence that his treatment works and that, unlike toxic treatments, his does not hurt anybody. Burzynski notes that he has faced more resistance to alternative treatments in the US than in Communist Poland.

The bill specifies that individuals can be treated by a health-care practitioner with any medical treatment the individual desires, or that is authorized by the individual's legal representative, if: (1) the practitioner agrees to treat the individual; and (2) the administration of such treatment does not violate state licensing laws. It does not apply to religious treatment, since state medical-practice acts do not consider religious treatment the practice of medicine. Nor does the bill mandate that insurers must pay for nonapproved treatments, although insurers may choose to do so upon passage of the bill.

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