On Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, American Botanical Council (ABC) Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to an opinion article written by Paul A. Offit, MD, and Sarah Erush, PharmD, BCPS. The piece, titled "Skip the Supplements," was published online Dec. 14 and printed on Dec. 15, and is the latest of Dr. Offit’s apparent efforts to discredit the general science and clinically documented benefits of numerous herbal and other dietary supplements.
Dr. Offit recently wrote a book that presents his case against the use of dietary supplements and integrative medicine titled Do You Believe in Magic: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine. It is possible that the relatively high degree of media coverage he received in the past year may be related to his efforts to promote his book, as well as the media’s general tendency to publish negative articles. Regardless of potential book sales (the proceeds of which are said to be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center), Dr. Offit appears to be on a sustained campaign against integrative, complementary, and alternative medicine. He is also a leader in educational and media activities in support of childhood immunization and fighting the assertion that childhood autism may be caused by or otherwise associated with vaccination.
Owing to the Times’ policy of not publishing letters to the editor that have been circulated by email or on the Internet, ABC did not release the contents of its letter until it became apparent that the Times was not publishing it. The Times did publish several other letters on the issue of dietary supplements and safety, including a letter from Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association.