Acupuncture is one of the most popular forms of ‘alternative’ health therapy in New Zealand.1 It is often used for the treatment of personal injuries, and New Zealand’s Accident Compensation…
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This study looked at acupuncture websites to see if they were breaching Section 58 of the Medicines Act, which prohibits claiming the ability to prevent, mitigate or cure a range of serious diseases. Seventy-three percent of the websites claimed they could treat/prevent mental illness, infertility and arthritis, 11% said they could treat/prevent cancer, 23% for diabetes, 19% for thrombosis and 14% for heart disease. This is the case despite a clear lack of evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is covered under the Accident Compensation (Liability to Pay or Contribute to Cost of Treatment) Regulations 2003, and is therefore eligible for Accident Compensation Corporation payments for the treatment of personal injuries. This study searched New Zealand acupuncturists’ websites for therapeutic claims that may breach Section 58(1)(a) of the Medicines Act. A search of acupuncturists’ websites shows that many claim to be able to treat a wide range of conditions, despite a lack of evidence showing the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of those conditions. Practitioners and owners of websites likely to be in breach of the Medicines Act include many committee members from acupuncture’s professional bodies.