Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The FDA Takes Action Against Quack Autism "Cure" Peddlers

The FDA announced on Friday 25 April 2014 that they have issued warnings to "companies" who have been making false, misleading and dangerous claims regarding some of the more heinous "autism cures".
April is National Autism Awareness Month, a fitting time to think about the growing need for concern and awareness about autism.
One thing that is important to know up front: There is no cure for autism. So, products or treatments claiming to “cure” autism do not work as claimed. The same is true of many products claiming to “treat” autism. Some may carry significant health risks.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays an important role in warning these companies against making false or misleading claims.
Some of the "cures" that the FDA has warned about are:
  • “Chelation Therapies.” These products claim to cleanse the body of toxic chemicals and heavy metals by binding to them and “removing” them from circulation. They come in a number of forms, including sprays, suppositories, capsules, liquid drops and clay baths. FDA-approved chelating agents are approved for specific uses, such as the treatment of lead poisoning and iron overload, and are available by prescription only. FDA-approved prescription chelation therapy products should only be used under medical supervision. Chelating important minerals needed by the body can lead to serious and life-threatening outcomes.
Chelation has quite a fan base over at the autism-hating pit also known as Age of Autism. Unfortunately for their children who have been subjected to this dangerous "treatment", the need for chelation is based upon bogus tests that use a chelator administered to the child, urine collected and then "tested".  These provoked challenge tests are not recognised as valid by any regulatory authority any where in the world. 

Research suggests that chelating in the absence of heavy metals can actually cause permanent neurological damage in children because the chelators will scavenge essential nutrients necessary for growth and development.  None of those peddling chelation for autism have any safety or efficacy data to support their claims.  Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue peddles chelation along with off-label prescription drug use to "recover" your autistic child.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber and has been cleared by FDA for certain medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers. It has not been cleared for autism, among other conditions.
TACA via autism crank Kenneth Stoller make very specific claims regarding Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and "treating" autism. Forcing special needs children into HBOT chambers is not only cruel but has already resulted in the death of at least one child and his grandmother for another unapproved use of HBOT.  There are no valid data to support HBOT as an effective autism treatment although that doesn't stop the quacks from taking advantage of desperate parents.
  • Miracle Mineral Solution. Also known as Miracle Mineral Supplement and MMS, this product becomes a potent chemical that‘s used as bleach when mixed according to package directions. FDA has received reports of consumers who say they experienced nausea, severe vomiting and life-threatening low blood pressure after drinking the MMS and citrus juice mixture.
This is perhaps one of the most horrifying and ludicrous autism "cures" and Kerri Rivera is at the forefront of this disgusting and abusive snake oil peddling.  Ms. Rivera has presented MMS/Chlorine Dioxide (CD) as an autism cure at the premier crankfest AutismOne since 2010 and will be there again this year claiming 128 children "recovered" by bleaching them. Ms. Rivera would have her followers believe that since chlorine dioxide isn't sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) that it isn't a bleach.  She is either too stupid, too evil or both to make this claim as "bleach" is a classification of chemical compounds, not a single one as Emily Willingham so aptly demonstrated.  

Users abusers of MMS/CD report nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhoea but Ms. Rivera blithely exclaims that "it's working".  Parents who force this on their autistic children also report and proudly supply pictures of their children's intestinal mucosa which is sloughing off to which Ms. Rivera claims that it's "parasites".  Ms. Rivera lives hides in Mexico but peddles her snake oil globally so is not immune from FDA action.
  • Detoxifying Clay Baths. Added to bath water, these products claim to draw out chemical toxins, pollutants and heavy metals from the body, falsely offering “dramatic improvement” for autism symptoms.
A completely useless and potentially dangerous "autism treatment".  Clay baths are not regulated and can contain harmful contaminants, the very things that peddlers claim they are purging from the body.
  • CocoKefir probiotics products. Product claims include being a “major key” to recovery from autism, but they are not proven safe and effective for this advertised use.
CocoKefir is a sponsor of AutismOne this year and although they have received at least one FDA warning letter, are still making claims that their products treat autism. Again, these products are considered supplements and are not regulated so may contain contaminants and other ingredients which are not listed.

I applaud this action by the FDA as special needs children are being subjected to dangerous, harmful and downright abusive "treatments" by dubious quacks and cranks.  Now if only the AMA and AAP will recognise these abusive "treatments" for what they are and disciplining their own physicians, perhaps autistic children may be spared from harms perpetrated by the very people who should be protecting them.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Find a "vaccine friendly" doctor

that is, one who is friendly and vaccinated. In honour of National Infant Immunization Week, which starts today, the CDC has announced their 2014 Childhood Immunization Champion Awards. Check them out - maybe you are lucky enough to live near one - there is one per state :)