The Providence Journal has followed-up on the story of local "naturopath" John E. Curran. (See our previous post here.) Curran requested an administrative hearing at the state Health Department about its suspension of his "natural healing" practice. At the hearing, Curran refused to answer every question put to him, pleading the Fifth Amendment. In particular, he would not answer questions about three diplomas that he allegedly purchased from a "bogus college," nor the $2650 check he used to pay for them; a blue coat he wore at his practice, with a badge that read, "John E. Curran, ND, MD, MPH, PhD'; documents that identified him as an ordained minister, "a fugitive-recovery agent," and a member of the press; and a New York City Police badge with his name on it. Eventually, Curran ended the hearing, and agreed to accept the suspension of his practice. The Journal reported that investigations of Curran by the US Food and Drug Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Postal Service, and Attorney's Office are still pending.
Although Curran may be an extreme example, a quick look at the web will reveal all sorts of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners making exaggerated claims about the benefits of their services. Reputable medical schools have allied themselves with CAM institutions which claim they can treat depression with acupuncture, and increase longevity with herbs (see previous post here.) The extent that spending on unproven, useless, and even harmful CAM treatments contributes to rising health care costs remains unexplored.
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