1st December 2017, Volume 130 Number 1466

Daniel J Ryan

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…

Subscriber content

The full contents of this page is only available to subscribers.

To view this content please login or subscribe

Summary

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.

Abstract

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.

Author Information

Daniel J Ryan, Committee Member, Society for Science Based Healthcare, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

I would also like to thank Dr Jonathan Broadbent (PhD), Mark Honeychurch, Dr Alison Campbell (PhD), Dr Michael Foley (PhD) and Mark Hanna for their feedback on the manuscript.

Correspondence

Daniel J Ryan, Committee Member, Society for Science Based Healthcare, 78 Mercury Way, Whitby, Porirua, Wellington 5024.

Correspondence Email

daniel.ryan@sbh.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

References

  1. Pollock K. Alternative health therapies - Asian alternative-health therapies [Internet]. 2011 [cited 1 June 2017]. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Available from: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/alternative-health-therapies/page-5 
  2. 2014/2015 ACC acupuncture spending [Internet]. 2017 [cited 18 February 2017]. FYI. Available from: http://fyi.org.nz/request/3043/response/10026/attach/html/2/Response%20OIA%20Hanna%20M%20Acucpuncture%20spending.pdf.html 
  3. Gilbey A, Ernst E, Tani K. A systematic review of reviews of systematic reviews of acupuncture. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2013; 18:8–18.
  4. Exercise not acupuncture for people with low back pain says NICE in draft guidance. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [Internet]. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 2016 [cited 20 February 2017]. Available from: http://www.nice.org.uk/news/press-and-media/exercise-not-acupuncture-for-people-with-low-back-pain-says-nice-in-draft-guidance 
  5. Andrew AC, Agatha CP, Belinda AJ, ØRjan MG, Richard H, Steve C, Peter WM, Helene LM. Electrical properties of acupuncture points and meridians: A systematic review. Bioelectromagnetics. 2008; 29(4):245–256.
  6. David GH. Integrative oncology: really the best of both worlds? Nature Reviews Cancer. 2014; 14:692–700.
  7. Vickers A, Goyal N, Harland R, Rees R. Do Certain Countries Produce Only Positive Results? A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. Controlled Clinical Trials. 1998; 19(2):159–166.
  8. Colquhoun D, Novella SP. Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo: the end of a myth. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2013; 116(6):1360–1363.
  9. Miller LE, Stewart ME. The blind leading the blind: use and misuse of blinding in randomized controlled trials. Contemp Clin Trials. 2011; 32(2):240–3.
  10. Section 3 of the Accident Compensation (Liability to Pay or Contribute to Cost of Treatment) Regulations 2003 [Internet]. Legislation.govt.nz. 2017 [cited 24 February 2017]. Available from: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2003/0388/22.0/DLM235783.html 
  11. Patel A, Toossi V. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in New Zealand: differences associated with being a practitioner in New Zealand compared to China. NZ Med J. 2016. Available from: http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2016/vol-129-no-1444-28-october-2016/7045 
  12. Frequently Asked Questions [Internet]. 2017 [cited 6 August 2017]. Acupuncture NZ. Available from: http://www.acupuncture.org.nz/what-is-acupuncture/frequently-asked-questins 
  13. Conditions [Internet]. 2017 [cited 6 August 2017]. Acupuncture NZ. Available from: http://www.acupuncture.org.nz/what-is-acupuncture/what-conditions-can-be-treated-with-acupuncture/ 
  14. O’Sullivan J, Mar CD, Barnes A, Marron LJ. Acupuncture in Australia. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2016; 21:22–24.
  15. ASA complaints against acupuncturists that were making bad therapeutic claims [Internet]. ASA - Advertising Standards Authority. 2017 [cited 18 February 2017]. Available from: http://www.asa.co.nz//backend/documents/2016/05/13/16029.pdf http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=15428 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=15384 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=15255 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=15251 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14646 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14645 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14536 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14461 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14405 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14316 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=14192 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=13448 http://old.asa.co.nz/display.php?ascb_number=12493 
  16. Section 58 of the Medicines Act 1981 [Internet]. Legislation.govt.nz. 2017 [cited 18 February 2017]. Available from: www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1981/0118/latest/DLM56046.html
  17. Part 1, Schedule 1, Section 58 of the Medicines Act 1981 [Internet]. Legislation.govt.nz. 2017 [cited 18 February 2017]. Available from: www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1981/0118/latest/DLM57001.html
  18. Dara S. Effectiveness of acupuncture in selected mental health conditions. [Internet]. Accident Compensation Corporation. Auckland 2014. Available from: http://www.acc.co.nz/assets/research/Evidence-based-review-acupuncture-and-mental-health-conditions.pdf 
  19. Accident Compensation Corporation. Pragmatic Evidence Based Review: The efficacy of acupuncture in the management of musculoskeletal pain. Accident Compensation Corporation. Auckland 2011. Available from: http://fyi.org.nz/request/1800/response/6586/attach/5/2%200%20120113AcupunctureFinal%20extrev%20Redacted.pdf

Download

The downloadable PDF version of this article is only available to subscribers.

To view this content please login or subscribe