Alaskans deserve to choose the kind of doctor they want

I have been a practicing naturopathic Doctor in Juneau for 11 years. I love Juneau and am committed to living here permanently as an active member of this community. However, my livelihood here is being ruined due to the regulation changes recently enacted by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development that prohibit naturopathic doctors from writing any prescription, even for natural substances.

Over the last 11 years, I have developed a specialty in endocrinology and bio-identical hormone therapy, specifically for thyroid treatment. This year I realized some financial security and success in my practice. I get calls from prospective patients from all over Southeast, people are familiar with my name, and I have built a good reputation.

About 20 percent of my business is treating thyroid dysfunction with natural thyroid hormone replacement. This is a prescription only item because the manufacturer has labeled it as such. It is not, however, recognized as a drug by the FDA. Despite the fact that this substance is all natural, the new regulation change will mean that I will no longer be able to prescribe this medicine for my patients. I will have to refer 20 percent of my business to another practitioner, likely a nurse practitioner, who may not be as skilled as I am at treating this condition, but who can write prescriptions. What small business can afford to lose 20% of its business? This is going to be devastating to me and to my patients who have gotten help from me that they were not able to find elsewhere.

In the 30 years that Naturopaths have been licensed in the state of Alaska, no patient has been harmed. No malpractice suit has been brought. The instigating investigation against Dr. Kane was not triggered by a patient complaint, but a complaint from a medical doctor who was unclear about our scope.

With the lack of access to affordable health care and the renewed focus on prevention and wellness care, it is tragic that the state of Alaska is tying the hands of experienced, well-educated and trained naturopathic doctors who are only seeking to provide basic primary health care in this state. Are there not enough sick people to go around? Does one system of health care work optimally for every body? Shouldn’t Alaskans get to have a choice?

Kristin Cox, ND

Rainforest Naturopathic Medicine

Juneau

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