White House Commission Recommends Increasing Promotion of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Final Report, March 2002.

Over the past 30 years, public interest in and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) systems, approaches, and products has risen steadily in the United States. Depending on how CAM is defined, an estimated 6.5 %1 to as much as 43%2 of the U.S. population has used some form of CAM.

Until recently, the primary response of Federal, state, and local health care regulatory agencies to this phenomenon was to restrict access to and delivery of CAM services to protect the public from unproven and potentially dangerous treatments. Since the early 1990s, however, scientific evidence has begun to emerge suggesting that some CAM approaches and products, when used appropriately, can be beneficial for treating illness and promoting health. As this evidence is collected and disseminated to the wider health care community and the public, it should provide a reliable basis for making policy decisions that will facilitate the public’s access to safe and effective CAM approaches and products.

The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP) was established in March 2000 to address issues related to access and delivery of CAM, priorities for research, and the need for better education of consumers and health care professionals about CAM. The President’s Executive Order No. 13147 establishing the Commission states that its primary task is to provide, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, legislative and administrative recommendations for ensuring that public policy maximizes the potential benefits of CAM therapies to consumers.

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