By New Scientist
UK charities that provide complementary and alternative medicines fear losing their charitable status over possible measures that will raise the bar for proving their therapies work.
A final decision on what standard of evidence will be needed to gain charitable medical status in future will be issued in three or four months’ time by the government’s Charity Commission for England and Wales, which closes a public consultation on the matter this week.
Campaign groups such as the Good Thinking Society, which backs robust scientific evidence in healthcare, prompted the commission to hold the consultation. These groups hope the commission will apply measures to force providers of complementary medicine to offer stronger evidence of benefits.
“We think it’s great the charity commission is looking at this issue,” says Tracey Brown, director of the campaigning group Sense about Science. “One reason quackery succeeds is because it wears so much of the garb of medicine and of legitimate medical charities. So we’re very interested in a peer-review system using existing medical standards bodies such as the royal colleges to help the commission to evaluate.”
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