Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has sought assurances that a new Government Bill, brought forward by Fine Gael Deputy Kate O’Connell, will not interfere with the work of complementary therapists practicing in cancer support centres.

Deputy Cowen said that the essence of the Bill, which is to provide greater protection for patients who receive cancer diagnoses and are then inundated with communications from people seeking to sell them treatments or claims of cures, is a noble intention, but that the Bill needs to be amended.

He explained, “Fianna Fáil highlighted a number of issues in relation to the Bill when it was first debated in the Dáil. We do not believe that the approach of criminalisation is the right way to go about this.

“The idea that someone might advertise something and not be able to meet a certain burden of proof, and potentially to be faced with five years in prison as a result of that, is not typically how these things work.

“Given the broadness of this Bill, it overlaps with already existing legislative provisions. False advertising and targeting in such ways are dealt with under specific legislation. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASAI) can and does deal with false claims of curing cancer.

“It is paramount that genuine innovation is not deterred. Complementary therapies do not treat cancer, but they can relieve the side effects of cancer treatment. They should not be at risk of unintended consequences,” he concluded.