Why the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) Should Be Abandoned
Kimball C. Atwood IV, MD; Elizabeth Woeckner, AB, MA; Robert S. Baratz, MD, DDS, PhD; Wallace I. Sampson, MD
Medscape J Med. 2008;10(5):115. ©2008 Medscape
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) was begun in 2003 and is expected to be completed in 2009. It is a trial of office-based, intravenous disodium ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid (Na2EDTA) as a treatment for coronary artery disease (CAD). A few case series in the 1950s and early 1960s had found Na2EDTA to be ineffective for CAD or peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Nevertheless, a
few hundred physicians, almost all of whom advocate other dubious treatments, continued to peddle chelation as an office treatment. They claim that chelation dramatically improves symptoms and prolongs life in 80% to 90% of patients. In
response, academics performed 4 controlled trials during the 1990s. None favored chelation, but chelationists repudiated those findings.We have investigated the method and the trial. We present our findings in 4 parts: history, origin and nature of the TACT, state of the evidence, and risks. We present evidence that chelationists and their organization, the American College for Advancement in Medicine, used political connections to pressure the NIH to fund the TACT. The TACT protocols justified the trial by misrepresenting case series and by ignoring evidence of risks. The trial employs nearly 100 unfit co-investigators. It conflates disodium EDTA and another, somewhat safer drug. It lacks precautions necessary to minimize risks. The consent form reflects those shortcomings and fails to disclose apparent proprietary interests. The trial's outcome will be unreliable and almost certainly equivocal, thus defeating its stated purpose.We conclude that the TACT is unethical, dangerous, pointless, and wasteful. It should be abandoned.
The entire article is available at: http://journal.medscape.com/viewarticle/570625_print
You may be asked to "register"; don't worry, it's free. The article is very long, but the Introduction, Executive Summary, Discussion, and Conclusion are reasonably succinct and make the important points. Readers who want to learn more details, who want to see more evidence for our assertions, or who are compelled by an odd fascination with crackpotism (my own weakness) will want to read more.
I've posted a similar announcement on Science-Based Medicine.