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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Autism Quackery in the UK

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss autism quackery.

At The Guardian, Dr. Frances Ryan writes about Emma Dalmayne's campaign against a risky "cure."
Dalmayne, a stay-at-home mother and autism campaigner from London, is describing Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a “supplement” being sold online to parents as a “cure” for their autistic children. But MMS is essentially bleach. It is 28% sodium chlorite, and when used as instructed, generates chlorine dioxide – a potent bleach that’s used to strip textiles and for industrial water treatment.
It is highly dangerous to ingest. Taken directly, MMS can cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, damage to the gut and red blood cells, respiratory problems, and can be fatal. “MMS can cause serious damage to health and in some cases even death,” says a spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency (FSA). “Anyone who has bought these products is advised to throw them away.”
Dalmayne – who has two children with autism and three others under assessment for diagnosis, and has autism herself – first became aware of the fake cures in 2014, after setting up an autism support group online. “Parents would ask me, have you seen this? Isn’t it awful? Or, does it work?” she says. Over the past 18 months, the 40-year-old has found dozens of websites selling MMS under the guise of curing autism, as well as GcMAF, an unlicensed product derived from blood plasma that claims to treat autism as well as cancer and HIV.
There are no figures on how widespread the manufacture and use of fake autism cures are in the UK, but the FSA says local authorities have made it aware of a number of cases where MMS has been marketed for sale. And the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency confirms it is investigating GcMAF products after it found manufacturing conditions were “unacceptable” and the material “unsuitable for human use”. Last year, more than 10,000 vials of GcMAF were seized at a production site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, with the product being sold on various European websites that UK citizens may have bought from.