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Should alternative healing be more tightly regulated?

An Alberta couple is found guilty in the death of their child for choosing alternative remedies over medicine. The case has highlighted some of the confusion and lack of regulation of alternative remedies and treatments in Canada, as well as the role complementary medicine plays in treating children, and when parents have the right to refuse conventional medicine. With guest host Duncan McCue.
Pictured are pills that are marketed as vaccine alternatives, known as nosodes, sold by homeopathic practitioners. They are not proven and not approved by Health Canada as replacements for immunization. (CBC)

An Alberta couple is found guilty in the death of their child for choosing alternative remedies over medicine. The case has highlighted some of the confusion and lack of regulation of alternative remedies and treatments in Canada, as well as the role complementary medicine plays in treating children, and when parents have the right to refuse conventional medicine.

The death of 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan from bacterial meningitis was tragic and unusual, and last week a court in Lethbridge, Alberta heard how the toddler's parents treated him for two-and-a-half weeks with alternative remedies. 

The jury found the parents guilty of failing to provide the necessities of life to the toddler who died in March, 2012.

The case has highlighted some of the confusion and lack of regulation of alternative remedies and treatments in Canada, as well as the role complementary medicine plays in treating children, and when parents have the right to refuse conventional medicine.

This week, we would like to hear your comments on these complex issues. Does there need to be better oversight of alternative remedies?

Guests

Brian Goldman is a veteran ER physician and host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art.

Heather Boon is a professor in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. She is chair of the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research, and chair of Health Canada's Expert Advisory Committee for Natural Health Products 2006-2009.

Tim Caulfield is Canada research chair in Health Law and Policy and a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He is author of The Cure for Everything!: Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health Fitness and Happiness, and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.

Juliet Guichon is a medical bioethicist with the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

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