Thursday, 7 June 2007

Psst, anybody wanna buy some "traditional remedies," eh?

Amidst all the many loud and long and highly principled protests against the promised regulation of supplements, natural and alternative medicines (it's my body and I'll put whichever homeopathic non-medicine into my body I like, thank you very much), Russell at 'Hard News' puts his head above the parapet in support of Annette King's Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill.

It's one that libertarians should recognise; one involving the argument that quackery and fraud should be illegal...


  1. There is nothing wrong with regulating the natural and alternative medicines industry. The regulation is to force them to uphold their claims and comply rather than making unsubstantiated claims.

    You always see a bottle of alternative medicine here or there that claims that cleansed your body of toxins. This claim must be verified and not mislead the consumers.

    Note PC, that the intended regulation WILL NOT OR DOES NOT STOP YOU from taking or buying these alternative medicine. So, your freedom to say it's my body and I'll put whichever homeopathic non-medicine into my body I like, thank you very much is not being taken away. The regulation just tells these manufacturers to prove their claims clinically. See, this protects average Joe Blo suckers in the public like me from being conned.

    Oh, no, you gonna jump and say, but it is my personal responsibility to check these claims out myself. It is impossible to check each and every item that I buy. I will hire a chemist to go to the liquor shop with me to test the alcohol level in beer crates to see if the claim on those labels of 5% by volume is correct or not. I will be hiring a biologist to go to the butcher and check out if this povi masima is organic or inorganic, or if that lamb chop was from a sheep that was fed using a type of nutritious grass invented by AgResearch which suppose to give higher protein content to the animal.

    Where do you stop?

    BTW, did you find out which ISP has a better Spam-filter, so that you could subscribe to that service? If you haven't decided on that yet, then perhaps you can hire me to check it out for you of which ISP has the lowest false positive (lowest classification error) Spam filter.

  2. When you are involved with incurable neurological disease, you strike many people who turn to alternative medicine for relief of symptoms and supposed cures.

    Take Multiple Sclerosis. The person has lost his/her job, the wife/husband/partner has shot through, has cognitive problems, on a benefit and paying 20% of it for alternative medicines. That's their right, of course, but too often they've been suckered by irresponsible claims, have no guarantee of quality or quantity of product in the medicine and have a poorer quality of life from reduced income.

    Often the purveyors of this stuff also regale their victims of the horrors of genetic modification that many approved drugs consist of and stack the deck with conspiracy theories of how the medical establishment assassinates advocates of alternative medicines (yes, really, and right here in NZ).

    This Bill (Therapeutic Products and Medicines) is hated by these people because it fires a shot across the bows of this whole culture of dodgy shit and conspiracy theory.


  3. Hell, half the time traditional medicine can't promise much.

    Sure, Russell pulls out a few examples of homeopathic remedies that may be harmful - so what?

    I know of a drug which regularly causes many deaths in this country, is known to irreversibly damage the liver and is correlated with violence, disabilities in newborn babies, reduced self awareness and care and unwanted pregnancies & STDs.

    Funny how they're not trying to ban alcohol?

    Sure, if someone is making false claims they should be liable under the same legislation that covers all fraud. But have the government decide what is safe for me and what isn't? No thanks.

  4. Before someone says it, might clarify my comment.

    I don't want to ban alcohol. In fact I brew my own beer and enjoy it every day.

    I don't smoke, but it's my body to screw up if I wanted to.

    And I don't take any alternative remedies. But it shouldn't be up to a governmental panel to decide what I can take.

    If the alcohol says it's 5%ABV when it's 10%, if the cigarettes say they're healthy or if an alternative remedy fails to inform you of a side effect, they're all guilty of fraud and should be treated as such.

    Otherwise, I'll make up my own damn mind what I put into my body.

  5. This bill also screws over those of us who take suppliments such as 5htp after a hard weekend out...

    Not cool

  6. Craig D said...
    But it shouldn't be up to a governmental panel to decide what I can take

    No, the governmental panel isn't deciding of what you can take. The medicine is still going to be available, however, the government will enforce the manufacturers to prove their claims. That's all. If those alternative medicines are suppose to cure what they claimed to be, THEN why is it bloody hard for them to submit their medicine for an independent clinical trial & test of their products? If the product passes that trial, well, it would still be available, but however it fails, then it should either remove the claim or be banned. It is simple really.

    PC said...
    It's one that libertarians should recognise; one involving the argument that quackery and fraud should be illegal...

    Yes, but you have to recognize that some of those alternative medicines are based on anecdotal evidence by their producers, meaning that some of those who are making the claim are genuine , that is they never intended to commit fraud by making false claim. However, anecdotal evidence is not scientific evidence and this is what this regulation is about, to eliminate products with claim based on anecdotal evidence. The issue here is to bring the alternative medicine industry into aligned with international practice of scientific standards and not allow them to use hearsay standards. Not many or perhaps very few who died from these alternative treatments, but hey, my mother's grass juice drink had never killed anyone in the village. She wasn't committing fraud, but based on tradition, that her own mother (my grandma), treated 2 serious illness people in her days with the same grass juice drink and they got cured (anecdotal evidence). There hasn't been any scientific test to find out if people got cured from my mum's grass juice drink or perhaps it is just a placebo effect. This method of treating that type of illness in the village were passed on to my mum. This is definitely not fraud and there are some in the alternative medicine industry here in NZ who produce the same sort of products. However, there are still people who deliberately make false claim about their products, and these are the people that you perhaps meant that are breaking the law.

    So, if you could stop all the bullshit claims (deliberate & genuine based on anecdotal) before it reaches the consumer, then that would be a good thing.

  7. Falafula,

    Another reason for regulation is to protect home grown remedies of merit.

    It's bloody difficult to market a good product if it doesn't have a tick from NZ and Oz health authorities. Same for stuff coming in.

    To me its sound business sense to have "Meets Oz/NZ standard xxx/x as well as Allah, 500 Tibetan Yetis, the Yogic Flyers Inc and Mrs Malone from County Derry" on the label.



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