Lawsuit Challenges New Arkansas Acupuncture Law

August 11, 2009

Opponents of a new Arkansas law that bans practitioners of alternative medicine from dispensing drugs or identifying themselves as doctors are asking a federal judge to declare the law unconstitutional.

A federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Texarkana practitioner of alternative medicine, claims that the new law was motivated by competition and not concern for the public health.

The lawsuit, filed July 24 on behalf of Dan L. Martin, claims there was a “concerted effort to destroy oriental medicine.”

“Please remember that the Legislature has imposed these drastic changes in the scope of a profession without any evidence, findings, or even a hint of a statement of compelling interest, or, indeed any purpose,” the suit said. “On the other hand, other practitioners of the healing arts, such as chiropractors, dentists, and pharmacists continue to be permitted to inject legend drugs and substances.”

The suit names the head of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, the executive secretary of the Arkansas State Medical Board and the president of the Arkansas State Board of Acupuncture and Related Techniques as defendants.

The suit argues that the law treats one group differently from the other – pharmacists, for example, can give shots – in violation of the state and U.S. constitutions.

But lawmakers argue that it’s critical to forbid practitioners from administering injections or dispensing drugs because they don’t have medical degrees.

Sen. Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia, said the issue came to his attention when a pharmacist asked if he could legally fill a prescription written by a practitioner of oriental medicine.

“What I wanted to do was protect the public health and welfare of the citizens of Arkansas,” Malone said.

The law took effect July 29. Martin is also seeking an injunction to keep Arkansas from enforcing the new law. A hearing is set for Friday in federal court in Texarkana.

Information from: Texarkana Gazette,

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