CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Anti-aging medicine profiled and challenged

Anti-aging medicine is profiled and challenged in an analysis of its claims as a field.

CNN wonders whether anti-aging medicine really qualifies as a medical specialty:

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), which was founded in 1993 to support research on extending life and treating age-related disease, claims 19,000 members in 90 countries. Membership has nearly doubled in the past five years. The Business Communications Company Research firm says the U.S. market for anti-aging products is worth $45.5 billion and growing nearly 10 percent a year.

On its Web site, A4M refers to "the arcane, outmoded stance that aging is natural and inevitable" and says "the disablities associated with normal aging are caused by physiological dysfunction." That attitude is controversial.

The American Medical Association does not consider anti-aging an official specialty....many anti-aging practitioners are not certified in traditional fields. Robert Goldman and Ronald Klatz, the co-founders of A4M, are osteopathic physicians who were once ordered by the state of Illinois to stop identifying themselves as MDs.

Sometimes anti-aging medicine is considered CAM, and sometimes use of emerging therapies within medicine. Obviously therapeutic approaches such as those using dietary supplements would be considered within the complementary medicine domain, whereas others simply reflect emerging approaches that have not yet become part of the standard of care, or are not as supported by the same quality and quantity of research as more generally accepted medical approaches.

The claims and counterclaims concerning anti-aging medicine have certainly generated litigation:

Some observers say the whole field is an expensive hoax. "There is no such thing as anti-aging medicine," huffs Jay Olshansky, a sociologist at the University of Illinois who studies medicine and longevity. "As long as humans have existed, we have always desired to live longer. Every society, every religion, every culture. Of course, they all failed at dramatic life extension." Olshansky was slapped with a $120 million dollar defamation lawsuit by A4M after he accused the organization of promoting quackery. He countersued and both sides eventually agreed to drop their cases.

Others say anti-aging medicine is simply preventative medicine. In any case, the usual legal issues, such as concern about malpractice liability and physician discipline, would be triggered. On the liability side, physicians may have a "respectable minority" defense available in some states, and possibly, the assumption of risk defense. Both of these are discussed in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998) in the chaper on malpractice liability issues in CAM.
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173