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Sunday, February 12, 2017

MMS, Quackery, FDA and, of course, Trump

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss autism quackery.  One particularly dangerous"cure" involves bleach.

At The Daily Beast, Dr. Paul Offit compares the dangerous quack cure MMS to lobotomies.  Its inventor,
In October 2016, [inventor Jim] Humble recanted his claims. The elusive American, tracked down near Guadalajara, Mexico, by an ABC News 20/20 team, told reporter Brian Ross he had no evidence MMS cured anything. Days later, ABC reported a statement from Humble said “In the past I have stated that MMS cures most of all diseases. Today, I say that MMS cures nothing!”

(Attempts to contact Humble for comment weren’t successful. MMS remains for sale on the church’s website.)

Unfortunately, parents of autistic children haven’t gotten the message: MMS is now all the rage in the autism community. The problem—apart from the fact that autism isn’t caused by worms—is that even small quantities of the substance, which children are directed to swallow or receive as an enema, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, respiratory failure, anemia, and, ironically, developmental delay. In October 2015, one U.S. vendor was sent to prison for selling the product. A California man has alleged that MMS caused his wife’s death, though an autopsy was inconclusive.
FDA reported on the 2015 case:
According to the evidence presented at trial, Smith created phony “water purification” and “wastewater treatment” businesses in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The government also presented evidence that Smith hid evidence from FDA inspectors and destroyed evidence while law enforcement agents were executing search warrants.

Before trial, three of Smith’s alleged co-conspirators, Chris Olson, Tammy Olson and Karis DeLong, Smith’s wife, pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. Chris Olson, along with alleged co-conspirators Matthew Darjanny and Joseph Lachnit, testified at trial that Smith was the leader of PGL.

The case was investigated by agents of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Christopher E. Parisi and Timothy T. Finley of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C. 
At Vox, Julia Belluz reports that Trump is gutting the FDA:
The confusion now engulfing the FDA can be traced back to the end of January, when President Trump instituted a hiring freeze for the federal government (a change that’s typical of new presidents). Days later, in a more disruptive move, he issued an executive order requiring two regulations to be cut each time a new one is introduced. Both of these orders came with sparse details on how, exactly, they’d be implemented.

Vox reached out to the FDA as well as the Trump team for comment, which deferred to the OMB, and the OMB to HHS. Each agency said they couldn’t clarify anything at this time.
There are also questions about who will become the FDA’s commissioner, whether its thousands of vacancies will be filled, and what the Trump administration’s calls to weaken it mean. The FDA, which makes sure our food and drugs are safe, has many, many regulations — and Trump has vowed to cut 75 to 80 percent of them. “Instead of it being 9,000 pages, it’ll be 100 pages,” Trump told a group of pharmaceutical company executives, presumably in reference to FDA’s guidance and rules.