Unproven alternative medicines recommended by third of Australian pharmacists

The Guardian, 13 February 2017
Author: Melissa Davey
“Nearly one third of pharmacists are recommending complementary and alternative medicines with little-to-no evidence for their efficacy, including useless homeopathic products and potentially harmful herbal products.”
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Health Care Complaints Commission v Liu [2017] NSWCATOD 18

Decision date: 27 January 2017
“The Respondent is a practitioner of Chinese medicine registered under the National Law. The enquiry is into an application and complaint against the Respondent made in accordance with sections 39(2) and 90B(3) of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 and section 145A of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (“The National Law”).”
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Germany legalizes cannabis for medicinal purposes

Reuters, 19 January 2017
Authors: Michelle Martin, Janet Lawrence
“Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday passed a law that legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill. Those suffering from serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain or a lack of appetite or nausea could be offered marijuana under the law. The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.”
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More older Americans using cannabis, underscoring need for research

ScienceDaily, 11 January 2017
Source: Oxford University Press USA
“The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported that cannabis use by persons over age 50 has outpaced recent growth observed across all other age groups. In 2000, about one percent of Americans over 50 had used it within the past year; by 2012, that number had risen to 3.9 percent. There is currently a lack of biomedical, clinical, and public health research to inform policy related to this trend.”
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Alternative medicine clinics often tout ‘treatments’ for allergy, asthma

Reuters, 5 January 2017
Author: Madeline Kennedy
“Alternative medicine practitioners like homeopaths and acupuncturists may claim to treat allergies or asthma, but a study in Canada found that many there offer remedies that are unproven or even dangerous. Many of the testing methods and treatments advertised on alternative medicine websites do not have any research evidence to support them, the researchers write, and only two treatments mentioned are proven to work.”
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Stores may steer teen boys to supplements doctors advise against

Reuters, 4 January 2017
Author: Lisa Rapaport
“Employees at health food stores often recommend supplements like creatine and testosterone to teen boys even though these products pose serious health risks, a U.S. study suggests. More than one in 10 teen boys try muscle-building products. Risks of creatine include liver and kidney damage, dehydration and muscle cramps; testosterone is also tied to liver and kidney impairment and may halt bone growth.”
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Mellow drivers? Study says states with medical-marijuana laws have lower traffic fatality rates

Washington Post, 20 December 2016
Author: Fredrick Kunkle
“States with medical-marijuana laws have fewer traffic fatalities than those without, especially among younger drivers, a new study has found. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found an 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities on average when examining places that have enacted medical-marijuana laws — 23 states and the District of Columbia. The presence of medical-marijuana dispensaries also correlated with fewer traffic fatalities, the study found.”
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Dodgy claims for complementary medicines? Here’s how the drug watchdog could have more bite

The Conversation, 19 December 2016
Authors: Ken Harvey, Sasha Hall, Tiana Moutafis
“Complementary medicine suppliers are getting away with breaching advertising requirements because Australia’s medicines regulatory authority has no bite, new data confirms. This means consumers can have little confidence in advertising claims for listed medicines, mainly complementary medicines like herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements.”
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Morality and non-medical drug use

BMJ 2016; 355:i5850
Author: A C Grayling
“Conservative moral attitudes are fruitful in causing social problems. The question of the use of drugs such as cannabis and heroin is a prime illustration of this fact. Arguably, neither the use nor the misuse of mind altering substances is a moral problem, though both, and especially misuse, can cause practical problems. But if in addition their use is criminalised, those problems are exacerbated and the cost to society balloons.”
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