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Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Mar;4(1):65-86.

Patient perspectives: Tijuana cancer clinics in the post-NAFTA era.

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  • Cancer Communications, Inc, PO Box 1076, Lemont, PA 16851, USA. questions@cancerdecisions.com

Abstract

This article contains observations and historical considerations on cancer and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the Tijuana, Mexico, area. There are approximately 2 dozen such clinics in Tijuana, some of which have been treating international cancer patients since 1963. Among the first clinics to be established were the Bio-Medical Center (Hoxsey therapy), Oasis of Hope (a Laetrile-oriented clinic), and a series of clinics affiliated with the Gerson diet therapy. These original clinics were established mainly by American citizens in response to increased regulation of nonstandard therapies in the United States, particularly after passage of the Kefauver-Harris Amendments to the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act in 1962. In the 1970s, the Tijuana clinics proliferated with the upsurge of interest in Laetrile (amygdalin). By 1978, 70,000 US cancer patients had taken Laetrile for cancer treatment, and many of those had gone to Tijuana to receive it. The popularity of the Tijuana clinics peaked in the mid-1980s. Although many new clinics opened after then, a dozen have folded in the past 10 years alone. The turning point for the clinics came with passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which facilitated greater cooperation among the antifraud authorities of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In 1994, the tripartite members of NAFTA formed the Mexico-United States-Canada Health Fraud Work Group, or MUCH, whose brief is to strengthen the 3 countries' ability to prevent cross-border health fraud. Under the auspices of MUCH and its members, regulatory crackdowns began in earnest early in 2001. The clinics were also badly affected by the general downturn in travel after 9/11. If these trends continue, many Tijuana clinics are unlikely to survive. Some suggestions are made for how the Tijuana clinics could be reorganized and reformed to minimize the likelihood of governmental actions and to maximize public support. Such reforms center on 5 main areas: (1) research, (2) physical plant, (3) finances, (4) ethics, and (5) education.

PMID:
15695477
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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