FDA ISSUES WARNING ABOUT INEFFECTIVENESS OF SOME CLAIMED TREATMENTS FOR AUTISM

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice on April 12, 2017, to consumers warning that “products or treatments claiming to ‘cure’ autism do not work as claimed.”  The notice said the same is true of many products claiming to ‘treat’ autism or autism-related symptoms and some claimed treatments may actually carry significant health risks.

“According to Commander Jason Humbert, M.H.S., R.N., a regulatory operations officer in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, the agency has warned and/or taken action against a number of companies that have made improper claims about their products’ intended use as a treatment or cure for autism or autism-related symptoms. Some of these so-called therapies carry significant health risks and include:

  • “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 that do not include the treatment or cure of autism, 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 professional supervision. Chelating important minerals needed by the body can lead to serious and life-threatening outcomes.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber and has been cleared by FDA only for certain medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers.
  • Detoxifying Clay Baths. Added to bath water, these products claim to draw out chemical toxins, pollutants and heavy metals from the body. They are improperly advertised as offering “dramatic improvement” for autism symptoms.
  • Various products, including raw camel milk and essential oils. These products have been marketed as a treatment for autism or autism-related symptoms, but have not been proven safe and effective for these advertised uses.

Humbert offers some quick tips to help you identify false or misleading claims.

  • Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.
  • Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
  • Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a “quick fix.”
  • So-called “miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, may be a hoax.”

The bottom line is this—There is no cure for autism. Consumers need to be wary of unproven or little known treatments.  FDA officials recommend talking to your health care professional before buying or using these products.

Source for article: USFDA Consumer Update, April 12, 2017, “Autism: Beware of Potentially Dangerous Therapies and Products; “FDA Warns Of Products Claiming To Cure Autism” by Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop, April 13, 2017.