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New Director Attends Office of Alternative Medicine Advisory Meeting

New Director Attends Office of Alternative Medicine Advisory Meeting

BETHESDA, Md--Wayne Jonas, MD, director-designate of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), who will take office on July 1, has attended his first meeting of the Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC).

In his address to AMPAC, Dr. Jonas, an army physician who has studied alternative therapies, said that the original purpose of the OAM was to look at and report on claims of treatments for cancer and other diseases that fall outside the realm of traditional medicine, and to establish a clearinghouse for alternative treatments. But, he said, "people invested too many of their hopes in OAM; that is, they relied on OAM to do what traditional medicine cannot: cure cancer."

He noted that the first 3½ years of the OAM's operation have been marred by political meddling, as well as administrative and management problems that have hampered the office's ability to conduct appropriate field investigations of a variety of alternative treatments.

Dr. Jonas assured the AMPAC members that he is committed to excellent science. "If we do not have top-notch science at OAM, the investigations will go nowhere," he said, adding that he felt confident of continuing NIH support.

Alan Trachtenberg, MD, MPH, who has been serving as acting director of OAM, reported on the various treatment modalities that have been in the OAM's spotlight since its inception in 1991.

In terms of cancer, there is little positive to report, he said. Two children with brain tumors are enrolled in a trial of antineoplastons (substances extracted from urine that have been shown to promote regression of neoplastic cells in vi-tro), and no patients are enrolled in a study of shark cartilage for solid tumors.

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