The Institute of Medicine (IOM) ispushing for tougher regulations ondietary supplements to ensure thatthey are safe and that they accomplishwhat they claim. The IOM recommendsthat Congress take the necessarysteps to require improved qualitycontrol of supplements and to provideincentives to study the effectiveness ofthe products.
In its 327-page report, the institutealso urges that complementary andalternative medical procedures berequired to meet the same standards ofefficacy as traditional medical treatments.Unlike drugs that require FDAapproval, the Dietary SupplementHealth and Education Act permits thesale of supplements unless the FDAcan prove them harmful.
Stephen E. Straus, MD, director ofthe government's National Center forComplementary and Alternative Medicine,agreed with the institute's recommendation,saying that requiringthe same research standards "will furtherthe scientific investigation of thisnew field, increase its legitimacy as aresearch area, and ultimately improvepublic health."
A Harvard Medical School study,reported in Alternative Therapies inHealth and Medicine (January 2005),found that 35% of Americans usesome form of alternative medicine.Lead author of the study Hilary Tindle,MD, reported that such widespreaduse demonstrates the need for study ofthe safety, efficacy, and cost-effectivenessof these approaches.