When toxic metals are in products there is outrage…isn’t there?

14 Jan

Imagine products that tested positive for a metal which studies have reported linked to autism severity. Imagine those products were supplements marketed for use with autistic kids. Would you expect some outrage, especially from the groups linking autism to toxic metals? I would.

Have you heard about the possible antimony contamination in some supplements manufactured by Kirkman Laboratories:

NOTICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS:

Jan. 7, 2010

Dear Kirkman Customer and Distributor,

It has come to Kirkman’s attention, that a raw material vendor has supplied Kirkman with stevia that has a higher content of antimony than may be acceptable for our special needs customers.

The problem is limited to only two lots of stevia, which were used in several Kirkman® products. These products affected by the high antimony levels are:

1. Zinc Liquid – – Product # 387/8 and 387/16
2. Super Nu-Thera® w/o A and D Powder – – Product # 447/454
3. DMAE 50 mg. Chewable – – Product # 489/90
4. Super Nu-Thera® Powder Orange – – Product # 410/454
5. B Complex with CoEnzymes Pro-Support Powder – – Product #399/7
6. TMG w/Folic and B-12 Powder – – Product #413/4 and 413/8
7. Vitamin C 250 mg Chewable Tablets – – Product #389/100 and 389/250
8. Trial sizes of the above seven products

You should stop using these products, destroy them and request a credit or replacement from Kirkman®. Please call our customer service department to make this request.

Raw material suppliers or nutraceutical companies are not required to test for antimony levels, so Kirkman® was not aware of this problem until two of our physician customers brought the issue to our attention as a result of their metal testing. We immediately had our laboratory research the issue. They quickly isolated the problem to two specific lots of stevia leaf extract. Kirkman® immediately stopped using the affected stevia and stopped shipping products that tested out at high antimony levels.

So that this situation does not reoccur, we have implemented a new policy that every raw material we use in our products will be tested for antimony.

Kirkman® apologizes for any inconvenience we may have caused because of this issue. We have instituted this voluntary action regarding the suspect products because we feel it’s the right thing to do. Kirkman® will not compromise on the quality standards we have been known for throughout our more than 60 years of business.

Sincerely,
Larry Newman
COO Technical and Regulatory Affairs
Kirkman Group

and

NOTICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS:

Jan. 12, 2010

Antimony Update

What are the effects of ingesting antimony?

There are still unknowns regarding the ingestion of antimony. Antimony is not typically a contaminant in raw materials. It is not part of the USP heavy metal screening that raw materials are typically tested for by importers or food and supplement manufacturers. Furthermore, there are very few studies that define what are safe or potentially harmful levels of antimony. Kirkman® has spoken with government regulatory agencies regarding safety issues from the use of antimony. Their response is still forthcoming. As a result, we don’t have all the answers currently.

Orally consumed antimony is typically eliminated by the body through urine and feces in several weeks and probably isn’t bio-accumulated. If this is the case, the levels in Kirkman’s products would pose no risks. The few clinical studies reported in the literature tend to indicate that levels less than 1 mg. of antimony per kg. of body weight are eliminated without side effects. Kirkman® will continue to update our website as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Larry Newman
Chief Operating Officer
Technical and Regulatory Affairs
Kirkman Group, Inc.

If you are like me, you’d be wondering if anyone in the alternative medical world care about antimony. The answer: You bet. A recent article touted by many in the biomed community, The Severity of Autism Is Associated with Toxic Metal Body Burden and Red Blood Cell Glutathione Levels claimed “this study demonstrates a significant positive association between the severity of autism and the relative body burden of toxic metals.” (for more on that study, see Prometheus’ analysys, Is DMSA safe and effective?). One of the toxic metals reported in that study…antimony.

The regression analysis found that the body burden of toxic metals (as assessed by urinary excretion before and after DMSA) was significantly related to the variations in the severity of autism, for each of the four scales. The metals of greatest influence were lead (Pb), antimony (Sb), mercury (Hg), tin (Sn), and aluminum (Al).

This was discussed by the alternative medical autism community. For example, in Toxic metals related to more severe autism symptoms, the blog author wrote:

A new Journal of Toxicology study seems to confirm that children with higher levels of metals – such as lead and antimony – in their urine had more severe autism, suggesting that metal levels in their bodies may contribute to its seriousness.

I always hear a lot about “EPA drinking water limits” when it comes to mercury. 2 parts per billion is the limit for Mercury. The limit for antimony? 6 parts per billion.

Now, keep in mind that the drinking water limit argument is almost always used incorrectly and, to this reader’s eye, as a scare tactic. But, I wonder if the same measures will be used if and when anyone in the alternative medical community decides to discuss the Kirkman supplements.

Kirkman Laboratories is one of the well known suppliers of supplements to the autism biomed community. Let’s say that one of the big pharmaceutical houses had made the announcements above, would there be outrage voiced on the blogs?

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25 Responses to “When toxic metals are in products there is outrage…isn’t there?”

  1. MJ January 15, 2010 at 02:19 #

    Sullivan,

    This was a case of a supplier selling Kirkman labs a contaminated product. As soon as Kirkmans found out about the problem, they recalled the entire product lines for products that *might* have been affected, not just the lots that they knew to be affected. Kirkmans is implementing measures to check for this type of contamination in the future.

    So after getting off to a rocky start, the company is handling the problem well. As would be expected of ANY company that sells products like this, be if a humble supplement maker like Kirkmans or a giant pharmaceutical company like Merck.

    While you might think this is amusing or a talking point of some kind, it really isn’t. Children received supplements that had been contaminated. Or even more specifically, my children received contaminated zinc from Kirkmans.

    Why might they be taking zinc you ask? Well, my children’s doctor has this crazy biomed “alternative” idea that if your child is deficient in something as critical as zinc (.4 ug/ml, reference range .55 – 1.50 ug/ml), you might want to give them extra. Call us wacko or “alternative” if you want, but you might want to first look up what the medically indicated treatment is for chronic zinc deficiency.

    So while you seem to find this amusing, I really don’t think that learning that a medically necessary supplement has been contaminated to something to make sport of. Especially when it is my children that are directly effected.

    How about acting like a human being instead of trying to score debate points?

    • Sullivan January 15, 2010 at 03:12 #

      MJ,

      you lost me at your assertion that I think this is amusing. If you find some humor in this, well, that’s you. Don’t project it on to me.

      How about acting like a human being? Sweet. I’m pointing out that there is a problem here. Did I mention zinc deficiency? Did I call into question the need to supplement when real deficiencies are present? Not in this post and not in any post. Have I ever used the term “wacko”? Take your own advice and stop trying to score debate points.

      I think Kirkman appears to be doing the right thing with their recall. Their attempt to calm parents by noting that the amount of antimony might be low is a good start–except that they don’t give actual data on how much antimony might be in the products they sold. Or did I miss that? Perhaps you could educate us on that.

      So, let me be very clear–I am not “making sport” of this. I didn’t dwell on the fact that Kirkman was putting out a contaminated product as much as I might and instead encouraged the biomed community to police its own. Would you prefer I made the post much harsher against Kirkman? How much harsher should it be? I’ve noted that they supplied supplements contaminated with a metal that the biomed community is very concerned about. Do I need to make that point repeatedly? Do I need to use language harshing on the company?

      AoA has ignored this story. By blogging it I’ve made it even less likely that they will cover it. See how they ignore the Zakh case? AoA won’t pick up on good stories that show up on “ND” blogs. I’ve tried before to interest them in pushing for an education related legislation–something we can all agree on. But, they won’t follow an ND blog’s lead, no matter if it harms their own. AoA should be picking this up. Their readership is targeted at the consumers of Kirkman’s supplements. I’m not “making sport”. I’m disgusted.

      I’m sorry if me being restrained in this post came across to you as trying to “score debate points”. I’m sorry if my attempt to shame AoA into informing their readership fails. I’m sorry that you have to go through this. Perhaps you could drop by their blog and post about this? Find a recent post that isn’t silly “debate points” from them…let me know when you find it.

  2. MJ January 15, 2010 at 03:43 #

    “I’m pointing out that there is a problem here”

    Then what exactly is the “problem” that you are attempting to point out? That a company had a contaminated product or that the people you like to make fun of aren’t castrating the company for allowing this to happen?

    If you were concerned about the former you would have simply posted a note about the recall, pointed people to Kirkman’s site, and left it at that.

    If it is the later, as I strongly suspect it is, you are turning a recall of a contaminated product into opportunity to score points against your “enemies”.

    If this is the case, I think you really need to ask yourself why you could possibly think that something as serious as product contamination would be a weapon to attack your adversaries with.

    I have to pack up the kids and get lab work down to double check that their levels of antimony aren’t too high – as are a large number of other people across the country. Even if this is the worst result outcome of this recall, the problems in taking children with autism to get lab work done is no laughing matter.

    “Perhaps you could drop by their blog and post about this”

    Have you ever seen me post there?

    As a matter of fact, I wrote a post about on my site about the recall as soon as I found out about it. Go Google “kirkman labs recall” and look what comes up.

    Besides which, the news of the recall is spreading quickly on its own through parent networking, stores calling their customers, and doctors notifying their patients and dealing with the consequences of the contamination. You know, the proper and responsible way to handle a situation like this.

    But if you think it is more important to shame AoA about how they ignored this story and cast blame instead of helping out, well, I guess that shows what sort of person you are.

  3. Dedj January 15, 2010 at 03:59 #

    “That a company had a contaminated product or that the people you like to make fun of aren’t castrating the company for allowing this to happen?”

    Looks like both to me.

    It’s an issue that a website like AoA – which has amongst other frivolities dedicated space to deconstructing the use of ad space on another website and launched multiple attacks against individuals including the recent attack on Kev Leitch – doesn’t appear to regard this as news at all.

    There has been no presentation of evidence that Sullivan is wrong, and no references have been given, nor has there been any presentation of any evidence to the spurious accusation that Sullivan is ‘casting blame’ as an alternative to ‘helping out’ , which is a nonsense requirement as it is.

    In short, MJ’s attempt to smear and insult Sullivan comes up as a total failure and leaves MJ looking like they have an axe to grind.

    Try addressing the actual issue next time.

  4. Dedj January 15, 2010 at 04:03 #

    So…. where is the AoA post on this?

  5. MJ January 15, 2010 at 04:34 #

    Dedi,

    The “evidence” is the post itself. If you need further guidance, I would suggest examining those things called “letters” that make up the “words” that are formed into “sentences” that are used to express “ideas” or “thoughts”. But if you want to discard those, as you apparently have done, then you are right, no evidence whatsoever.

    Here’s a hint for future comments, reply to the actual substance of the comment rather than resorting to a boilerplate “no evidence” claim.

    “Try addressing the actual issue next time.”

    I’m sorry, I thought the “issue” was that a large number of children, mine included, have received supplements that were contaminated. But apparently you feel, as does Sullivan, is that the issue here isn’t that contamination occurred and children received a potentially harmful substance but rather that a specific web site doesn’t mention the recall?

    And you say *I* have an ax to grind?

    The real “issue” here is the lack of compassion and blatant attempts to score points in some theoretical debate over a what is, in reality, a serious issue.

  6. Dedj January 15, 2010 at 05:15 #

    Thank you for your needless sarcasm, you really come off looking mature. The reason why I did not refer to the ‘substance’ of the comment is because there is no substance beyond “Boo hiss sullivan”.

    I’m sorry, but it is still not clear to you that the issue is BOTH that there was contaminated stock AND that a website that would likely have harked to the high hills had this been a mainstream produce appears to have failed to mention the story at all. You don’t appear to understand the distinction, as evidenced by your repeated attempts to depict Sullivans behaviour in simplistic either/or terms.

    Pony up a reference to where AoA has covered this ‘serious issue’. Your personal dislike of what you mispercieve Sullivan to have done is not a an issue here. Your continued attempts to polarise the issue does you no favours, nor does your failure to pony up evidence that Sullivan is engaging in cheap point scoring. Just because YOU think it’s what Sullivan is doing, doesn’t mean your interpretation is valid.

    Stop faffing about with your knickers in a twist and answer with something thats actually relevant to the issue in the OP.

    You’re not an idiot. Stop acting like one. You know what the issue is here, at least have some decency to try and address it rather than trying to divert the issue towards your game of moral superiority.

    Reference the AoA article or stop wasting our time. I look forward to seeing how you will dodge giving an answer. Toodles till tommorrow.

  7. MJ January 15, 2010 at 05:28 #

    Dedj,

    “Thank you for your needless sarcasm, you really come off looking mature.”

    I know you do, but what am I?

    Ahem, now that I got that out of my system.

    You seem to have missed the points that –

    1. I have no affiliation with AoA.

    2. I did the responsible thing and posted about the issue on the location that had available in attempt to spread the word about the recall. But the point was only to spread the word about the recall, I did not take the time to point out that LBRB failed to publish a notice since that wasn’t the point.

    2. AoA posting or not posting has nothing to do with what I am saying.

    3. Using an issue like this to attempt to make an opponent look bad or score points which, as you say in your comments, was at least one of the goals of the post, is completely inappropriate.

    As for evidence, I can only offer my interpretation of what Sullivan wrote, which is the only rigorous “evidence” that anyone can offer outside a scientific study.

    • Sullivan January 15, 2010 at 06:39 #

      If I were using this to try to make opponents look bad, you’d have a point. You don’t. I don’t have opponents, for one thing. I may find AoA to be a blog that promotes junk science, but when I blog about them it isn’t a fight. This is me expressing my outrage. If you see things as a fight, find another blog to comment on.

      When I read the letters on the Kirkman website I was struck by a number of things. First was the amazing similarity to the Kirkman response as to what I would expect from any other company or the US government. Downplay the risk and tell people they are looking into it. Guess what, I decided to not make that discussion since Kirkman seems to be trying to do the right thing. Second, I was struck by the fact that it has been a week and I’ve seen nothing on the major biomed blogs or discussions about this.

      People are potentially being harmed here. People are certainly going to feel anguish over this issue. Good for you for blogging it. Seriously. Good for you. Shame on you for your efforts to use that here to defend your fellow biomed community members.

      AoA and the rest need to police their own. Supplements are only discussed in faux articles touting their sponsors. Yeah, that angers me. Infomercials for industrial chemicals which, to this observers eye, are given a free pass because someone they like is promoting it are not what I consider responsible blogging. Attacking opponents (yes, to them it is a fight, with opponents) and ignoring real stories like this that could reduce potential harm and parental anguish, that I don’t find responsible. If I vent my frustrations here, that is my right. If you want to claim you understand my motivations, be prepared to be shut down when you are wrong–like now.

      I see you’ve added mind-reading to your bag of tricks. Next time you want to type a sentence to the effect of “sullivan thinks/feels this or that” keep in mind that you are almost certainly wrong. You are now. You have been in the past.

      Your logic is ALWAYS fautly. Without fail, you misread a post here and then complain that your misinterpretated version is something bad.

      If I thought I, like you, could read minds, I could discuss whether you really misinterpret everything or if you just like to come around and mess with us.

      As for evidence, I can only offer my interpretation of what Sullivan wrote, which is the only rigorous “evidence” that anyone can offer outside a scientific study.

      By “anyone” you are not including me, right? The one person who can say what I really think? Or are you saying that your interpretation is somehow the most valid version of what I think?!?. What arrogance.

      MJ, wake up and start thinking. Seriously, your “interpretation” of the motivations of this blog are so simplistic as to be mind boggling. It is precisely because I take the issue of the tainted supplements seriously that I am angry.

  8. KT January 15, 2010 at 07:10 #

    I read on another post that a chemist from Kirkman admitted that the antimony levels in the liquid Zinc are 10-12 ppm and in the super Nu-Vera the level was 40 ppm. I’m not a doctor, but when I read that the “normal” levels air and water are in the parts per billion, I get very scared for my son who has been injesting liquid zinc for 4 months. Kirkman better hope orally injested antimony passes through the body without harm because if it doesn’t, there will be a class action lawsuit from which they won’t recover from.

    How any company that makes products for a population that is as sensitive as the autism community could buy ANY raw materials from China without testing them is beyond me. It’s not like this is the first time we have heard that a Chinese company sold products that were laced with heavy metals. This has been an ongoing problem for years. You would think that with all of bad press that has come out over the last several years that any food company doing business with Chinese vendors would be testing the snot out of every product they buy!!

    As expensive as the products are, I would have paid more if they certified that they did not use any Chinese raw materials or if they certified that an independent lab tested all of the raw materials.

    Yuck, Yuck, Yuck.

  9. David N. Brown January 15, 2010 at 07:34 #

    The biggest problem with the “EPA drinking water” gambit is that the EPA allows a thousand times that concentration in sea food.

    On the subject of dangerous products that aren’t controversial, I nominate buckets. Young children drown in them. I don’t know any figures of the top of my head, but I don’t doubt it’s greater than the number killed by authentic vaccine injuries. I’ve put serious thought into how to childproof a bucket, and actually came up with something I think would work. Maybe I should patent it sometime.

  10. Dawn January 15, 2010 at 15:35 #

    @MJ: I’ve read your comments, and Sullivan’s. I think that you missed his point, but I think I understand why you did so, also.

    Sullivan: correct me if I am wrong, but I read your post as saying:

    A company that sells supplements found out that some of their products were contaminated with heavy metals. They did the right thing and did a recall of the products. However, because this is not a “Big Pharma” company, AOA and other blogs are not mentioning this recall. But, you feel that if it had been a “Big Pharma” company with the same issue, AOA et al would be all over the story, so their stance is hypocritical. AND, with AOA’s large readership, those who might be affected by the issue might hear of it sooner if AOA posted on it.

    @MJ: Using supplements for a medically documented deficiency is reasonable. A Zinc deficiency can cause decreased taste, which can lead to poor diet, etc. I hope that your kids did not get elevated levels of antimony. It is scary when you are trying to do the right thing and find out that you have innocently possibly injured your child.

    I read your reaction to Sullivan’s post as a reaction based on your anger and fear. While it’s good that you personally blogged about the recall, I think you have to admit AOA probably has a larger readership, and affected people might learn of it faster if AOA DID put up a post about it (and if the reader is unaware of the recall otherwise).

  11. Ruth/STL January 15, 2010 at 17:30 #

    AOA will go on about a trace of mercury left from vaccine manufacture, but will ignore high levels of metals in holistic drugs from India or contaminants in suplements.

    The manufacturers description of how the body disposes of antimony is accurate. I wish AOA would understand that the body does the same with 180 mirograms of thimerosal.

  12. Science Mom January 15, 2010 at 19:06 #

    I too, like dawn, took Sullivan’s post to point out the egregious double-standard that AoA employs for their topics. If it had been a vaccine manufacturer that recalled batches of vaccines for precautionary measures even, that would have been trumpeted by the contributors at AoA. But here is an industry that isn’t as regulated, if at all, that reports contamination with a metal that clearly concerns some DAN!s enough to write a bad study about, and not even a peep from a website that touts biomed. So I’m afraid you are off the mark MJ and this isn’t ‘sport’ at all.

  13. MJ January 16, 2010 at 00:53 #

    Sullivan, you said –

    “If I were using this to try to make opponents look bad, you’d have a point. You don’t. I don’t have opponents, for one thing. I may find AoA to be a blog that promotes junk science, but when I blog about them it isn’t a fight. This is me expressing my outrage.”

    If you want to play word games, you really should get better at it. If you would care to categorize your “resentful anger aroused by a violent or offensive act” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/outrage) as not “engaging in a quarrel; arguing” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fight) with “one that opposes another or others in a battle, contest, controversy, or debate.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/opponents), then I suggest you pick better words.

    To me it looks like criticising their actions, and based on your past statements, I don’t think that you consider the people at AoA to be your friends. And when people use the word “outrage” what they are normally looking for is a fight, normally against another party. Therefore, I think the words fight and opponent are appropriate.

    What I am “outraged” about is your attempt to turn what is a serious matter into a talking point, fight, “outrage”, or (insert other not-so clever synonym here) against your non-opponents who you spend a lot of time discussing, bashing, fighting, criticising or whatever else you care to call it.

    “I’ve seen nothing on the major biomed blogs or discussions about this”

    You haven’t been looking in the right places.

    “AoA and the rest need to police their own.”

    Aoa isn’t a governmental agency in charge of regulating the supplement market and Kirkman is taking the appropriate action here – recalling the product and altering their customers.

    If another large company had the same circumstances and took the same action, I doubt it would be a big deal. Consider the recall of Mattel toys for lead, they didn’t talk about that. Nor do I remember them talking too much about the recall of Thomas the train (I could be wrong there, I am going from memory).

    For that matter, why aren’t you writing about the current recall of tylenol products and how J&J doesn’t seem to be doing a good job of handling it? You clearly support main stream medicine and your readers could be impacted. Should I be outraged that you aren’t covering it?

    AoA isn’t covering it either – should we be outraged about that too?

    No, and the reason is that the purpose of the blog isn’t to spread that kind of information and that conventional channels are better at it.

    “Attacking opponents (yes, to them it is a fight, with opponents) and ignoring real stories like this that could reduce potential harm and parental anguish, that I don’t find responsible.”

    Really? Your position is that “they” attack opponents and fight with people but you are just expressing your non-directional “outrage” without any sort of adversarial overtones?

    Is that the sound of logic screaming as it is twisted into a pretzel I hear?

    “Your logic is ALWAYS fautly. Without fail, you misread a post here and then complain that your misinterpretated version is something bad.”

    Thank you, coming from you, that is a complement.

    “By “anyone” you are not including me, right? The one person who can say what I really think? Or are you saying that your interpretation is somehow the most valid version of what I think?!?. What arrogance.”

    Good grief.

    The word anyone in that sentence was used to imply another person in a general context. As most people who can read english would be able to figure out, I was clearly not saying that my opinion is the only valid one.

  14. Dedj January 17, 2010 at 07:35 #

    “I know you do, but what am I?”

    You don’t come off very well by responding to concerns about your maturity by being immature. Bear this in mind for the future.

    But onwards to your mistakes:

    “You seem to have missed the points that –
    1. I have no affiliation with AoA.”

    Irrelevant. I did not say this, nor is it required.

    “2. I did the responsible thing and posted about the issue on the location that had available in attempt to spread the word about the recall. But the point was only to spread the word about the recall, I did not take the time to point out that LBRB failed to publish a notice since that wasn’t the point.”

    Irrelevant. No one is concerned with what you did or did not do.

    “2 (sic). AoA posting or not posting has nothing to do with what I am saying.”

    Irrelevant. We are discussing what Sullivan is saying, thus AoA posting or not posting is THE point of the discussion. If you have trouble sticking to this, please cease responding.

    “4. Using an issue like this to attempt to make an opponent look bad or score points which, as you say in your comments, was at least one of the goals of the post, is completely inappropriate.”

    False, it’s appropriate to use an example of a lack of consistency as an example of a lack of consistancy, especially one as charged as this. This would be major sport for AoA had it been a pharma company. Unlike your accusation in your last post this is a real story (quite why you suddenly think it isn’t when Sullivan mentions it is a logical inconsistency you probably didn’t even spot, much less are able to justify) that AoA appears to have missed. I’ve asked you directly for a reference or link that deals with the thread topic. You have failed on all counts at all attempts.

    That you feel it is distasteful is irrelevant to the appropriateness.

    This is about AoA, not how much you want to score points off Sullivan. Deal with the issue or kindly stop responding.

    Toodles.

  15. Prometheus January 20, 2010 at 00:47 #

    MJ comments:

    “Then what exactly is the “problem” that you are attempting to point out? That a company had a contaminated product or that the people you like to make fun of aren’t castrating the company for allowing this to happen?”

    How about this one – that the “supplements” that parents are giving autistic children have elevated levels of antimony, a toxic metal that many “alternative” practitioners are following as a marker of both how their patients became autistic and how their therapies are progressing.

    Let me spell this out:

    [1] If a child is receiving a “supplement” that contains an elevated amount of, say, antimony, they will have elevated antimony levels in their urine – especially if they are being chelated at the time the specimen is collected (as is often the case).

    [2] An “alternative” practitioner, seeing these elevated levels of antimony, will tell the parents “Your child has elevated antimony levels, he/she has heavy metal toxicity.”

    [3] The child will continue to show elevated levels of antimony (especially if chelated) because they are receiving a contaminated “supplement”. This will convince the “alternative” practitioner that [a] the child continues to need chelation and [b] that their therapy is “working” because it is continuing to remove significant amounts of antimony.

    We have no way of knowing – short of submitting all “supplements” and other “alternative” medicines to comprehensive testing – how much of the elevated “toxic metals” in autistic children is spurious, introduced in the very compounds the parents are using to try to “cure” their children.

    The amount of antimony in Kirkman’s products was probably small – they haven’t released the concentrations. However, it is telling that they detected the problem because children taking the products were having high – probably very high – excretion of antimony, enough that the parents and/or practitioners began wondering about the source.

    Given that most “alternative” autism practitioners make little distinction between the “heavy metals”, ascribing autism to any and all of them (and even to non-heavy metals, such as aluminium) and seeing elevated urinary levels as a “good” thing, I suspect that the urine antimony levels were significant. Added to this is Kirkman’s coyness about the levels of antimony they found in their products, which could indicate that the concentration of antimony they found was higher than I initially thought.

    I have written before about my concern that imported DMSA and DMPS, not to mention alpha-lipioc acid (ALA) might be contaminated with heavy metals because they have such a high affinity for them. Now we see that even vitamin and mineral supplements may be a source.

    Given this, we should view any urine “heavy metal” results from children as suspect until we can determine that they aren’t getting them in their “supplements”.

    Personally, I find this to be a bigger problem than the blatant hypocrisy of the “alternative” autism therapy movement that was (again) exposed by their non-response to this contamination issue.

    Prometheus

  16. MJ January 20, 2010 at 03:23 #

    Promethus,

    I don’t think there is any reason to think (or evidence for that matter) that there has been a long term and wide scale undetected contamination of “supplements” across a variety of manufacturers. You seem to have the mistaken impression that doctors who suggest these supplements would not take the time and effort to check what they were suggesting.

    As a matter of fact, if you look at the details of this specific recall, you will find that it was a DAN doctor who discovered the contamination and altered Kirkman’s about it.

    “Now we see that even vitamin and mineral supplements may be a source”

    You are mistaken, it was not the vitamin or mineral supplement per se that was the problem – it was the sweetener (stevia I believe) that was used in the supplement. This sweetener has a wide range of uses outside the supplement market.

    “Given that most “alternative” autism practitioners make little distinction between the “heavy metals”, ascribing autism to any and all of them”

    That “most” is a gross overstatement, try “some few” instead.

    “Added to this is Kirkman’s coyness about the levels of antimony they found in their products”

    They have disclosed to doctors that have asked what the levels were. If you are interested, I suggest you as the company directly.

    “Given this, we should view any urine “heavy metal” results from children as suspect until we can determine that they aren’t getting them in their “supplements”.”

    You are extrapolating a widespread problem from a single recall and way overstating your case. It does not follow from a single incident that “any results” are “suspect” given a known contamination of a few lots from a single company.

    That would be like saying I have a yellow ball therefore every ball in the world should be considered yellow until proven otherwise.

    If you think that there is widespread contamination then I would suggest buying random samples of the supplements and having them tested. If you find problems then by all means write about them. I would certainly want to know. However without any data to back up your assertions I think you may label your statements as the unfounded speculation that they are.

  17. Tom January 20, 2010 at 17:23 #

    MJ sez: “If you think that there is widespread contamination then I would suggest buying random samples of the supplements and having them tested.”

    And so you propose the absurd notion that the onus for quality control is on the consumer to insure that a supplement company isn’t poisoning customers. By the way MJ, Prometheus is hardly alone in rasing concerns about this issue. From http://www.theannals.com/cgi/content/abstract/37/6/893

    “Quality control standards for dietary supplements run the gamut from good to nonexistent. Contamination, false labeling, and incomplete labeling are not uncommon problems — as are significant discrepancies in disintegration, dissolution, and in vitro release characteristics of various dietary supplements. The need for improved regulation has led to plans for increased FDA involvement through enforcement of good manufacturing practices and truths in labeling. Meanwhile, independent product certification companies have emerged and provide some reassurances; however, they possess several limitations as well.”

  18. Rita January 21, 2010 at 08:14 #

    KT– I could not have said it any better. I am thinking the exact same thing… I could have written your post.

    As a products liability lawyer, I know that a manufacturer like Kirkman who specializes in “special needs kids” has an elevated duty to test for substances that it is not required to do so. And yes, I spoke to Kirkman yesterday and they confirmed that the antimony levels are 10-20 ppm for the most part. My son’s antimony blood levels were drawn two days after we started the zinc supplement and the antimony levels already came back elevated. He was on the supplement for 2 months. (On a side note, anyone else on the supplements notice white stools.)

    I agree, though, that unless Kirkman steps up to the plate, this is a class action waiting to happen.

  19. Prometheus January 22, 2010 at 22:42 #

    MJ comments:

    “You seem to have the mistaken impression that doctors who suggest these supplements would not take the time and effort to check what they were suggesting.”

    Are you suggesting that these doctors send the supplements out for independent testing? I have seen no evidence of that – in fact, most of the doctors recommending supplements merely give their patients the name of a few sources. The supplements usually never enter the practitioner’s office.

    MJ continues:

    “As a matter of fact, if you look at the details of this specific recall, you will find that it was a DAN doctor who discovered the contamination and altered [sic] Kirkman’s about it.”

    True, and my point, exactly – the “DAN doctor” was probably suspicious of contamination because of consistently elevated urinary antimony levels.

    MJ also claims:

    “You are extrapolating a widespread problem from a single recall and way overstating your case. It does not follow from a single incident that “any results” are “suspect” given a known contamination of a few lots from a single company.”

    As Tom mentioned above, quality control in plants that make “dietary supplements” is spotty, and Kirkman has a reputation for being among the best. The problem is that they aren’t required to test their raw materials and so (as in the case of Kirkman) don’t bother to unless a problem arises.

    A better question is how the antimony got into the stevia. Again, we run up against the problem of the almost completely unregulated “supplement” industry. While it is possible that the stevia was contaminated by taking up antimony from the soil, that probably wouldn’t account for the amount seen in the final product, since stevia is 250 times as sweet as sugar, and so should be used in very small amounts. This leaves us with the fact that the stevia was heavily contaminated with antimony.

    MJ concludes:

    “If you think that there is widespread contamination then I would suggest buying random samples of the supplements and having them tested.”

    The “funny” thing is that what MJ suggests I do at my own expense is what food and drug companies outside the “dietary supplement” industry do themselves, on their own products. Considering where the “supplement” companies get some of their “alternative” ingredients, extra caution would be warranted.

    There have been numerous reports of contamination of “alternative” medicine products with heavy metals, bacteria, pharmaceuticals (not always “contamination” – often deliberate) and etc. I don’t feel that it is “unfounded speculation” to wonder how much of the “heavy metal toxicity” seen in autistic children receiving “supplements” and “alternative” medications is due to contamination.

    Contamination and adulteration is a known problem in the “supplement” and “alternative medicine” industry and it would unfounded speculation to assume that the “supplements” so many autistic children receive are free of contamination when there is apparently no testing to confirm this.

    Prometheus

  20. Melissa January 28, 2010 at 00:08 #

    I purchased the Liquid Zinc from a DAN doctor.
    I have been chelating for eight years.
    I am sorry, but I have to agree with “KT”
    I am tired of mistakes that my son keeps paying for.
    “LET’S NOT FORGET THE CHILDREN PLEASE, THEY’VE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH.”

  21. Elli October 3, 2010 at 20:30 #

    DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE IS A CLASS ACTION/ATTORNEY HIRED FOR THIS?

  22. Chris November 19, 2012 at 15:29 #

    Hello spam-bot.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) November 20, 2012 at 00:13 #

      Bye Bye, Spam-bot

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