Some Notes on David Eisenberg, M.D.

Stephen Barrett, MD

In February 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced that it was assembling a committee to identify major scientific and policy issues in "complementary and alternative medicine" ("CAM") research, regulation, training, credentialing and "integration with conventional medicine." As part of this process, it posted the names of 15 appointees and asked for public comment about their suitability. Here are IOM's biographical sketch of Dr. Eisenberg and the comments I submitted. Despite his enormous conflict-of-interest and continuous overpromotion of "CAM," he was retained on the proposed committee.

IOM Description (February 2003): David M. Eisenberg is the Director of the Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School and the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies. He is also the Bernard Osher Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 1979, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences Dr. Eisenberg served as the first US medical exchange student to the People's Republic of China. In 1993, he was the medical advisor to the PBS Series, "Healing and the Mind" with Bill Moyers. More recently, Dr. Eisenberg has served as an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federation of State Medical Boards with regard to complementary and alternative medicine research, education and policy. Dr. Eisenberg has authored numerous scientific articles involving complementary and integrative medical therapies.

My Comments (Posted on February 23, 2003)

One in three respondents (34%) reported using at least one unconventional therapy in the past year, and a third of these saw providers for unconventional therapy . . . In 1990 Americans made an estimated 425 million visits to providers of unconventional therapy. This number exceeds the number of visits to all U.S. primary care physicians. . . .

  1. Since 1993, he has produced a steady stream of inaccurate and unbalanced information intended to promote "CAM" activities.
  2. His judgment about research priorities is flawed.
  3. Since his current professional career depends upon his ability to promote interest in "CAM" methods, he has an enormous economic conflict-of-interest.

Overview of IOM "CAM" Committee

This article was revised on January 15, 2005.

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