Acupuncture

Stuff reports:

A report published in the prestigious New Zealand Medical Journal has attacked acupuncture businesses for widespread abuse of rules around claims.

Report author Daniel Ryan, who is a member of the Society for Science Based Healthcare, also said ACC should withdraw funding for acupuncture treatments because they don’t work and they are now costing taxpayers $33 million a year. …

Ryan searched acupuncture websites in New Zealand for illegal claims that acupuncture can treat or prevent serious conditions.

Section 58(1)(a) of the Medicines Act bans any advertisements that claim a treatment can “prevent, mitigate or cure” from a list of about 40 named serious conditions.

Ryan found that for the 101 included websites, the three most frequent claims were around the treatment or prevention of mental illness, infertility and arthritis (all on the list).

Combined, these claims appeared on 73 per cent of the websites. He also found 11 per cent of sites claimed acupuncture could treat or prevent cancer, 23 per cent made claims, 19 per cent targeted thrombosis and 14 per cent offered help for heart disease.

That’s an outrageous level of deceit in those websites. Acupuncture can have some therapeutic benefits such as pain relief, but if most of the providers in NZ are touting it as preventing arthritis and infertility then they are in danger of being seen as quacks.

Ryan said ACC subsidises acupuncture treatments at $67 an hour. He said ACC spent $33.2 million on acupuncture claims in the 2016/17 financial year and a total of $210 million had been spent over the last decade.

Ryan said the best scientific evidence suggested acupuncture was “no more than a theatrical placebo”.

“We need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is only used to pay for evidence-based treatments,” he said. “The government needs to review its funding of acupuncture and stop wasting money.” 

He called for the two acupuncture professional bodies to revoke practising certificates from acupuncturists which made claims that breached Section 58 of the Medicines Act. Without the practising certificates, the acupuncturists couldn’t access ACC money.

That seems a very sensible idea.

But Roberts said Acupuncture NZ wouldn’t do that.

“The only reason we would remove someone’s practising certificate is if they were in breach of gross misconduct – so if there were complaints about the actual treatment being provided. We wouldn’t remove someone’s certificate just for some complaints on what’s on their website. We would continue to work with them to improve the website.”

How about you give them three months to stop deceiving people and then yank their accreditation if non compliant?

And if Acupuncture New Zealand is unwilling to do that. then maybe a new regulatory body is needed.

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