Monday, May 12, 2014
Dear Mr. Preidt,
As board members for the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), we would like to commend you for your informative article entitled, “FDA Warns Against Bogus Autism Treatments,” published in HealthDay News (April 25, 2014). Your story brings attention to an important U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning: companies making false or misleading claims to consumers about bogus autism therapies may face legal consequences.
You point out that to date, “There is no cure for autism, so any products that claim to do so are scams, and the same is true of many products marketed as autism treatments.” We at ASAT could not agree more, as we are committed to improving the education, treatment, and care of people with autism. One of our main initiatives has been to educate consumers by disseminating information about effective, science-based treatment, and to respond to inaccurate information or proposed treatments portrayed by the media outlets. This has been a huge task, as consumers looking for autism treatment have (at our last count) over 450 proposed treatments available to wade through on a cursory Internet search. It is our hope that perhaps this move by the FDA will help to curtail the reckless marketing of fad treatments and ultimately protect families and individuals with autism from potentially unsafe and ineffective treatments.
Since autism was first identified as a medically recognized disorder, parents have been faced with the daunting task of sifting through scores of advertised products and treatments that promise a cure, but lack any scientific proof that they are either safe or effective. Sadly, this has resulted in a long history of failed treatments, and countless families have been sold false hope, often at a high cost — both financial and emotional. Thank you for pointing out that the FDA has taken a stand against scams advertised as autism treatments, and has specifically mentioned chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Miracle Mineral Solution and CocoKefir probiotics products. Also important to note is that it states that while some treatments are FDA approved for specific uses, they have not been approved as autism treatments, and that when used in this way they may pose serious health risks.
Many treatments for autism have been prematurely adopted by professionals and hastily embraced by consumers, often helped along by inaccurate reports in the media. We appreciate your well-written report about this recent FDA announcement. Parents of children with autism are faced with a staggering number of intervention options, many of which are scientifically unsubstantiated. Accurate reports like yours help parents become better consumers who are able to discern legitimate products from those which have no foundation in science. The FDA should be commended for taking a firm stand against marketers preying on vulnerable families and individuals with autism. Thank you for sharing with your readers that unsubstantiated claims to autism cures and fake treatments will not be tolerated by the FDA.
Peggy Halliday, M.Ed., BCBA and Ruth Donlin, M.S.
Association for Science in Autism Treatment