Metagenics, Inc., said today that its Chief Science Officer, Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, FACN, provided oral and written testimony during a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on the role of integrative medicine in health care reform.
The February 26 hearing, "Integrative Medicine: A Pathway to a Healthier Nation," was co-chaired by Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and sought to explore the role of complementary and integrative medicine in reforming the nation's ailing health care system. Today, the United States spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product—more than any other developed country—on health care. The vast majority of those expenditures—78 percent or $1.5 trillion annually—are for the treatment of preventable, lifestyle-related chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Increasingly, officials at the highest level of government are recognizing the necessity and value of integrative medicine, which makes use of conventional and complementary therapies, in preventing and managing chronic disease. In a press release following the hearing, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, called integrative care "a vital part of the new health care system" and warned that the country must adopt "a more integrated approach to medicine, through health care that addresses the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of the healing process in order to improve the depth, breadth, and patient choice in clinical practice."
Dr. Bland is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on the interrelationships between lifestyle factors (e.g., diet and exercise), genetic expression, and the origin of chronic disease. His statement spoke to the need for a paradigm shift in the focus of medicine, away from the current model that treats the symptoms of chronic diseases using acute care protocols to a new model that addresses the root causes of chronic diseases using prevention and lifestyle management. His remarks were echoed by fellow leading integrative medicine proponents who also testified, Drs. Mehmet Oz, Dean Ornish, Mark Hyman, and Andrew Weil.
Download Dr. Bland's testimony, "Reforming The United States Health Care System: Implementing An Effective Approach To Chronic Disease"
Download Senator Kennedy's press release, "Integrative Medicine: A Vital Part of the New Health Care System"
Highlights of Dr. Bland's testimony included:
· Functional medicine. Biomolecular research has established a clear link between the origin of chronic disease, individual genetic factors, and lifestyle and environmental factors. These latest scientific developments give rise to a functional medicine approach to prevention and management of chronic diseases. Functional medicine is broadly defined as a holistic approach that takes into account biochemical individuality and seeks to address the underlying cause of chronic diseases.
· Prevention and management of chronic disease. Although the present debate surrounding health care reform has focused heavily on universal access to care, absent from this dialog is a discussion on the type of health care that should be provided. The rise in chronic diseases calls for a shift away from our present health care delivery model (reactive, focused on treating disease) to a new health care delivery model (proactive, focused on preventing and managing chronic disease).
· Implementation of a prospective medicine model. Widespread implementation of the above model will require 1) a clinical training program in prospective, functional medicine; 2) a reimbursement method for interventions such as assessment, patient education, and integrative therapies; and 3) a greater role for health care extenders, such as dietitians and other allied health professionals who will work closely with the patient to achieve their goals.
"A shift to prospective, integrative medicine is necessary for the health care issues Americans face today," said Dr. Bland. "We already have the knowledge and the tools, including therapeutic lifestyle change programs, to practice this kind of care. My hope is that these therapies will eventually be integral to the way health care is delivered in this country."
About Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN
Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, FACN is internationally respected for his ground-breaking work in nutrigenomics and nutritional biochemistry, applied clinical nutrition, and functional medicine. Dr. Bland received his PhD from the University of Oregon in 1971, and served as a professor of chemistry at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, for 13 years. He also served as Senior Research Scientist at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, and directed the Bellevue-Redmond Medical Laboratory in Washington State. He is the author of more than 150 papers and five books on nutrition and its relationship to health and disease. For the past 15 years, Dr. Bland has produced Functional Medicine Update (FMU), a monthly audio tape in which he reviews and synthesizes the medical literature and interviews notable clinicians and researchers.
Metagenics, headquartered in San Clemente, CA, is a global life sciences company focused on reversing chronic illness and improving health. Founded in 1983, the company serves tens of thousands of health care professionals and more than a million patients throughout the world and holds more than 40 proprietary patents for use in nutraceuticals, medical foods, and pharmaceuticals. Today, Metagenics continues its leadership role by successfully merging the disciplines of nutritional genomics, functional medicine, and therapeutic lifestyle change programs to find solutions to society's most pressing health concerns. For more information, please visit http://www.metagenics.com.