World Federation of Chiropractic Elects New Secretary General

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation
World Federation of Chiropractic Elects New Secretary General

Supporter of Drug Rights & Subluxation Critic

The World Federation of Chiropractic recently announced that it has chosen Richard Brown DC as their new Secretary General to run their organization. Brown is the immediate past President of the British Chiropractic Association and has stated his and the BCA’s support for prescriptive drug rights for chiropractors.

In July 2012 in response to physiotherapists and podiatrists in England being given the right to prescribe drugs such as anti-inflammatories and painkillers BCA President Richard Brown stated:

“This decision will provide significant benefits for patients and complement the care they are able to receive from physiotherapists and podiatrists. It will also reduce the need for patients to return to their GPs for their medication”.

The BCA statement continued:

“The BCA, which is committed to improving quality and enhancing patient choice in the provision of musculoskeletal services, has already made representation to the statutory regulator, the General Chiropractic Council for the chiropractic profession to acquire prescribing rights and supports on-going dialogue to achieve this objective."

In a survey of the BCA membership, 78.5% of all members who voted were in favor of the BCA Council approaching the GCC to ask them to consider application for limited prescribing rights.

Brown admittedly had “argued that the scope of practice for chiropractors should not be restricted and that an opportunity for the profession to compete with its physiotherapy colleagues in the competitive marketplace of musculoskeletal services would be strengthened by permitting limited prescribing of drugs.”  

At the WFC’s 2011 Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brown defended his view in a debate with other leaders in the profession making representations to the General Chiropractic Council, maintaining “that the declared view of the membership of the UK’s largest national association should be acted upon.”

Despite this and despite his own admission that he voted for prescriptive authority in the BCA survey on the topic, in February 2013 (less than one year later and a year from being named Secretary General) Brown suddenly changed his mind.

Brown stated:

“Yet, from being a strong defender of the rights of chiropractors to prescribe, I have, over the past 12 months, felt my attitude cooling to the point where my conscience no longer enables me to support such a move.”

As it happens, during the time frame in question, the Chiropractic Summit group, of which the WFC is a member, had adopted a policy stating that no organization in the Summit promotes the inclusion of drugs into chiropractic.

Certainly it would have provided a considerable contradiction had Brown been named Secretary General of the WFC and still publicly held views that are contrary to the Chiropractic Summit.

No Fan of Subluxation Centered Chiropractors

In addition to his support for drug rights, Brown is also a harsh critic of subluxation centered chiropractors.

In a paper published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies in 2012 Brown referred to such chiropractors as “one trick ponies”:

“For chiropractic to gain credibility, we must also accept that we cannot simply be one-trick ponies. Claims by some chiropractors that we should not be diagnosticians but merely the correctors of vertebral subluxation perpetuate the myth that consulting a chiropractor will invariably involve lengthy programmes of spinal manipulation.”

The notion that subluxation centered chiropractors all recommend “lengthy programmes” is a recurring theme in Brown’s writing. In a presentation at the WFC Conference in 2013, Brown refers to these chiropractors as “evangelists” practicing what he refers to as “pseudo-religious systems”:

“There must be no place in our modern evidence-based era for evangelists who treat the profession as a cult and deride anyone who disagrees.”

“We must eradicate from the profession those peddling pseudo-religious systems of so-called care, who prey on the vulnerable and coerce them into financially crippling extended care contracts.”

It is not known what, if any, organized group of chiropractors Brown is referring to but certainly the International Chiropractors Association, which is a dues paying member of the WFC, supports pre-payment plans for subluxation correction.

Brown also seems to have a disdain for high volume practitioners. In the same issue of Chiropractic & Manual Therapies Brown states:

“Perhaps first and foremost, there is a clear need to promote a consistent message. It is a matter of great regret that chiropractic’s identity is often blurred and the good work done by a hard working majority can very quickly be undone by a damaging minority of evangelists who preach a message of high volume, practitioner-centered practice building.”

Is he referring to ICA members who see high volume and assist their patients with pre-paid plans of care to reduce or correct subluxation?    

For someone so militant regarding evidence based practice it is amusing to note that Brown promotes aromatherapy, essential oils, Indian Head Massage, ear candling and other methods on his website that seem to contradict his dedication to evidence based practice.

Such positions regarding subluxation, pre-pay, evidence based practice and high volume are not new to the WFC as the outgoing Secretary General of the WFC, David Chapman Smith, articulated similar views.

In a book titled: The Chiropractic Profession written by Chapman-Smith and published by the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company (NCMIC) Chapman-Smith urges readers to report these chiropractors to the regulatory board. he stated:  

“What is an appropriate number and frequency of treatments for a patient with acute, uncomplicated low back pain, another with chronic headaches and a third wanting preventive care? At one end of the scale there are horror stories of patients consulting a chiropractor who says that 100 treatments will be necessary to solve the complex problems of their spines, and that they can open up lump sum trust accounts at the office to cover payment. If this happens, refuse treatment, warn your friends and then call the state regulatory board.”

In the same book Chapman-Smith writes:

“Some patients will only require one or a few treatments. If there is documented improvement after 4 weeks, but not complete relief of symptoms or restored function, the course of manipulation may continue. Typically it should end within 8 weeks for uncomplicated conditions, within 16 weeks for other conditions unless there has been major trauma or complications.”

Brown will no doubt continue the march against subluxation centered chiropractors which has been a hallmark of the WFC for so many years.  

Chiropractors opposed to such extremist and non-evidenced based views as those expressed by Brown, the WFC and the Summit Group are urged to join and support the International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations (IFCO).   

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation