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Patients’ Choice of Doctor Under Threat

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  • Marcus Blackmore: Patients’ Choice of Doctor Under Threat

An open letter from Marcus Blackmore

The Medical Board of Australia is planning to impose greater regulation around the use of integrative, complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), which will significantly restrain the practice of integrative medicine and the use of CAM modalities by doctors. 

The Board’s public consultation paper on Clearer regulation of medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments is born of prejudice and ignorance and must be seriously challenged.

The proposal would see a split between conventional doctors and integrative medicine doctors. It would sanction doctors who use safe and effective integrative medicine in their day-to-day practice.

Integrative medicine doctors combine quality conventional medicine with safe and effective complementary medicine to improve health and reduce unnecessary medical treatments. They embrace prevention as a first principle of healthcare, help manage complex illness and care for patients for whom conventional medicine has not assisted.

The Medical Board already has a strong code of conduct on good medical practice which sets out what is expected of all doctors registered to practise medicine in Australia.

The proposed new draconian regulation is simply unnecessary. It is nothing more than an attack on complementary and integrative medicine.

Furthermore, it is wrong for the Medical Board to group complementary medicine with unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. Complementary medicine is safe and has nothing in common with these treatments.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has never been able to confirm a single death in Australia that directly resulted from using complementary medicine.

By contrast, it is estimated that there are around 650,000 hospital presentations/admissions1 every year due to medication-related problems.[1]

Where to find out more?

You can find a critique of the Medical Board’s proposal, prepared by Dr Mark Donohoe MBBS FASLM and Professor Stephen P Myers PhD BMed ND FACNEM on the FX Medicine website.

More information and resources are also available at: www.integrativemedicinefreedomofchoice.com

There is also information on the Australian Integrative Medicine Association’s website

What do we need to do?

It is important that we, as supporters and practitioners of complementary medicine, take a strong stand against this new proposal. I urge you to please make a submission to the Medical Board.

Submissions can be made by doctors/practitioners, patients, family/friends and the general public.

One of the options that the proposal considers is:

  • Option oneRetain the status quo of providing general guidance about the Board’s expectations of medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments via the Board’s approved code of conduct.

Please tell the Medical Board that you want option one to be selected.

Written submissions can be sent by email, marked: ‘Consultation on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’ by close of business on 30 June 2019.

Submissions for publication on the Board’s website should be sent in Word format or equivalent.

Submissions by post should be addressed to the Executive Officer, Medical, AHPRA, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne Victoria 3001.

For more than 50 years I have worked to support integrative medicine in Australia. I hope you will join me in challenging this shocking proposal from the Medical Board.


  1. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia 2019. Medicine Safety: Take Care. Canberra: PSA.


The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.

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Marcus C Blackmore AM ND, MAICD, D Univ, D Litt
Marcus Blackmore is the executive director and interim CEO (April 2019) at Blackmores Limited. Marcus holds an Honorary Doctorate from Southern Cross University for distinguished leadership in complementary medicines in Australia and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Western Sydney University for his distinguished services to business, charity and the broader community. He is an honorary trustee of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), an Alumnus of Harvard Business School, and an Honorary Fellow of the Heart Research Institute.