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Remember the fake supplement OSR #1? It’s still being developed

5 Apr

A few years ago a fake supplement was marketed to autism parents for use on their children. The “supplement” was called “OSR #1”, OSR for “oxidative stress releif” or something to that effect. The name was a bit of a dodge, just as packaging it as a supplement rather than a drug was a dodge. It was/is a chelator. The chemical used–a novel synthetic chemical–was developed for use in environmental heavy metal polution.

This is obvious but worth noting: one can not “supplement” one’s intake of a chemical that humans have never been exposed to before.

If you remember OSR #1, you probably remember that the drug was pulled from the market. But you may be surprised to hear that it may be about to resurface.

The FDA found out that this chelator, this drug, was being sold as a supplement (which avoids thorough tests for safety and efficacy). The FDA sent the Boyd Haley, whose company was selling the “supplement” a warning letter that made it very clear:

The claims listed above make clear that OSR#1 is intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals. Accordingly, OSR#l is a drug under section 201(g)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1). Disclaimers on your website, such as “OSR#l® is not a drug and no claim is made by CTI Science that OSR#1® can diagnose, treat or cure any illness or disease,” do not alter the fact that the above claims cause your product to be a drug.

Moreover, this product is a new drug, as defined by section 201(p) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(p), because it is not generally recognized as safe and effective for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in its labeling. Under sections 301(d) and 505(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(d) and 355(a), a new drug may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce unless an FDA-approved application is in effect for it. Your sale of OSR#1 without an approved application violates these provisions of the Act.

emphasis added.

Even as a supplement, OSR#1 appeared to be mislabled. Customers were not fully informed of potential side effects, per the FDA letter:

Your website states that” [s]ome reports of temporary diarrhea, constipation, minor headaches have been reported but these are rare and the actual causes are unknown,” as well as “OSR#1 is without detectable toxicity” and “OSR#1® … has not exhibited any detectable toxic effects even at exceptionally high exposure levels.” However, animal studies that you conducted found various side effects to be associated with OSR#1 use, including, but not limited to, soiling of the anogenital area, alopecia on the lower trunk, back and legs, a dark substance on lower trunk and anogenital area, abnormalities of the pancreas, and lymphoid hyperplasia. Based on these animal studies and side effects known to be associated with chelating products that have a similar mechanism of action to OSR#1, we believe the use of your product has the potential to cause side effects, and the before-mentioned website statements falsely assert that the product does not have the potential to cause side effects. Therefore, these statements render your product’s labeling false or misleading. As such, OSR#1 is misbranded under section 502(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352(a).

Mr. Haley’s company reportedly sold about $1.5M of OSR#1 as a supplement from his company CTI Science. I saw reports that OSR#1 was selling for about $2/pill so that’s maybe 750,000 pills. That’s a lot for somethiing untested for safety or efficacy. CTI appears to be a shortened version of the original name of the company: Chelator Technologies, Inc.. Chelators are drugs, not supplements.

All this said, CTI Science doesn’t appear to exist any more. If you go to the old website,, you get directed to a non operating website,

But obviously I haven’t written all this to say that CTI Science doesn’t exist. It’s not ermesmedical (as their link would suggest), it’s EmeraMed. No idea why they have this confusion over ermesmedical/emeremed. That said, Emeramed describes themselves as:

EmeraMed Limited is a biotechnology firm developing the antidote – heavy metal chelator and antioxidant – Irminix® (Emeramide). The Company is working to obtain marketing authorization in the EU and the US for the treatment of mercury toxicity. Phase 1 and Phase 2a clinical studies have been performed.

They have offices in Ireland, Swedend and the US (Kentucky–home of Boyd Haley). But no mention on the website about who is involved with the company, which I find rather odd. They note that the drug is not yet approved, but that they may be able to supply it to people under an “early access program”. Yes, why wait for actual approval and confirmation of safety and efficacy. This would be for use as a chelator–no mention of work as an autism treatment. There never was a good reason to use this for autism. Boyd Haley was long a proponent that autism is a form of mercury poisoning. Put simply, Boyd Haley was wrong. Very clearly wrong.

Mr. Haley and others may not be named on their website, but on SEC documents, he is named as part of Ermes Medical. If I read this document correctly, they have raised over $3.5M for the company.

As noted in their literature, they have been involved with clinical trials. For mercury poisoning. In Ecuador. No small irony there: many of Mr. Haley’s supporters complain that “big pharma” performs their clinical trials (or experiments, as his supporters would characterize them) in developing countries.

They are still pursuing patents for the treatment neurological disorders. No trial that I have found. Likewise for evidence of efficacy in humans. But a patent application.

A similar patent for treatment of COPD.

Should OSR#1 (under whatever new name) be approved for chelation, we can expect that it will return to the fake autism treatment world. Many still subscribe to the failed idea that autism is caused by mercury poisoning. That idea, pushed by Mr. Haley and others, was based largely on the idea that as mercury exposure from infant vaccines increased, so did the rate of identified autism. Biologically the idea was clearly wrong (autism and mercury poisoning are not similar). Also, even though mercury was removed from infant vaccines, autism rates have not fallen.

All that clear logic said, there still are people who chelate as an “autism treatment” and a new product will almost certainly cause a spike in the numbers trying chelation.

So, yeah, OSR#1 is gone. Except it may return soon under a new name. And likely a higher price tag. And it still won’t be a real treatment for autism.

Matt Carey


An open letter to William Shatner on autism awareness

3 Apr

Mr. Shatner,

I see that you have been involved in a rather large tweet storm this weekend, focusing on your support for Autism Speaks. My guess is you would agree that 140 characters at a time is far too limiting to take on a complex discussion. Open letters such as this are as well, but at least I can go into a bit more detail. I hope you take the time to read and at least try to see at least my side of this discussion.

First off, yes, I am part of the autism communities. My kid is autistic. I try to guard my kid’s privacy so I don’t give out a lot of details. But let me just say this: if people tell you, “Obviously his kid is ‘high functioning’ so he doesn’t understand what ‘real’ autism is about”, they are wrong.

Let me add: anyone who takes the position of discounting another’s voice based on some measure of “severity” of autism is harming our communities. My kid’s challenges are very different, but no less real than those of self-advocates you are hearing on twitter. Just as my kid’s challenges are very different, but no less real, than those of the other kids at his school who will likely never be on twitter.

Another way to put this is this: people will likely tell you this is a divide between parents of kids with “real” autism vs. self-advocates with “mild” autism. For what it is worth, some of my kid’s strongest allies are those self-advocates you are hearing from. Some of those who have done the most damage are other parents who, well meaning as they are, have increased the stigma of autism.

I haven’t seen that misconception (“real” vs “mild” autism) in your tweets (I haven’t read them all, but I haven’t seen it), but I have seen others. For example:


There is a difference, a big difference, between autism awareness and promoting Autism Speaks. “Light it Up Blue” isn’t an autism community effort, it is an Autism Speaks effort. Most autism organizations don’t promote “light it up blue”. I didn’t find one in my search yesterday other than Autism Speaks. There probably were some, but major organizations were not a part of “light it up blue”.

This is why people focused on the avatar you used on Twitter yesterday. It was an Autism Speaks “light it up blue” logo. The blue light bulb logo with the Autsim Speaks puzzle piece.

So, why would supporting Autism Speaks spark a strong response? I bet there are as many answers (more even) that tweets directed at you. But let me tell you about a few reasons. First on the list for me is the fact that over the years Autism Speaks has used truly bad depictions of autistics in their promotional materials. Their “I Am Autism” video is an example of this. It’s the sort of inspiration at the expense of the disabled that we saw in generations past. It presents autism as a monster that steals children. It presents the autism community as all the allies, but not the autistics. Seriously, read the transcript on who the community is.

You have not properly been introduced to this community of parents and grandparents, of siblings and friends and schoolteachers and therapists and pediatricians and scientists.

This is a systemic problem in the autism community: considering it a community of the allies, not the autistics.

The I am Autism video is old, and I will admit that Autism Speaks has evolved since then. But they aren’t where we need them to be yet.

I saw that people tweeted to you about how Mr. John Robison, an autistic self-advocate, left Autism Speaks. He was at the time the first and only autistic in an important position in Autism Speaks. Please take the time to read his article (in the link I just gave) about his reasons for leaving.

Analogies are always flawed, and coming up with a good one here is difficult. But imagine that the NAACP were staffed by well meaning white parents who had adopted African American kids. That African American’s themselves didn’t have a voice in their own advocacy organization. That they didn’t listen when an African American voiced a different opinion than theirs.

Please don’t fall for the false dichotomy of whether it should be parents or self-advocates who direct autism advocacy. It should be both. There will always be parents and siblings and others who hold the place at the table for autistics who can’t be there themselves (by the way, this includes many self-advocates. But that is another discussion). But we as parents have to work with the spectrum of our community, or we are only advocates for our own child not the whole. We need to work with adult and non-adult self-advocates. Not in spite of our differences in focus, but because of our difference in focus.

I have seen you respond to people that, instead of tweeting at you, perhaps they should focus their attention on organizing their own advocacy efforts. Many have. By the way, tweeting one’s opposition to your actions is advocacy. That said, one of the issues with Autism Speaks is that they have corportatized autism advocacy, branded themselves as the one-stop autism adovcacy location, to the point that local dollars are not available for small, community based advocacy efforts.


Case in point: you chose the Autism Speaks logo, the Autism Speaks motto (light it up blue), as being a generic autism advocacy effort.

Again, this is a big reason why that logo, that icon, garnered the reaction you received.

Lastly, let me point out that over its history Autism Speaks has promoted the failed and damaging “autism is a vaccine epidemic” idea. Again, they have evolved over time. But they still have far to go.

The vaccines-cause-autism idea is so incredibly damaging to our communities, to autistics, that I could easily triple the length of this piece by discussing it. Let me try to be brief. First off, it’s wrong. Simply and clearly, it’s wrong. You will find parents who believe it, who promote the idea. That doesn’t make it correct.

Listen to the parents who promote the vaccines-cause-autism idea. Hear and feel their pain. And ask yourself, if you could help them to not feel that pain, wouldn’t you? If what you are doing is causing more people to feel that pain, wouldn’t you want to change?

The path to stopping that pain is by getting good information out. Accuate information. Vaccines do not cause autism.

You probably woudn’t believe me if I told you all the fake “cures” sold to autism parents under the guise of “healing vaccine injury”. Chemical castration. Bleach drinks and enemas. Those are but two of the more abusive. There are many more, fake cures which tend to have one thing in common (in addition to being worthless): costing families lots of money. But if you say your “treatment” is for “vaccine injury”, no-one in the vaccines-cause-autism community will speak out against you.

That’s where Autism Speaks could and should step up. Could and should make a difference for our communities. Some have tried, but as an organization, this has been a spectacular failure for Autism Speaks.

Rob Ring, Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks (which touts itself as a science based organization) was very clear about this. He made the statement below on the Autism Speaks website:

Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.
Rob Ring

Here’s the thing–Bob Wright vetoed that message. First he put his own message up together with Dr. Ring’s. Then he disappeared Ring’s message.

I hope you took the time to read this. I hope you can take the time to understand the positions here. I don’t ask you to agree, but to understand. I don’t see that so far. Understanding–it’s a form of acceptance. Understand the positions of the people who disagree with you. Accept that they have a different point of view. Even if they are sometimes harsh.

By Matt Carey

Light It Up Blue isn’t autism awareness: it’s Autism Speaks advertisement

2 Apr

What do these autism organizations have in common:

Autism Science Foundation

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Autism Society of America

National Autistic Society


The Marcus Autism Center

The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

I could list many more.

Besides being autism organizations, they all have this in common: no mention of “Light It Up Blue” on their webpages today.

Today is Autism Acceptance Day (aka Autism Awareness Day). Autism Speaks has been pushing this day with their “Light It Up Blue” campaign. Autism Speaks describes Light It Up Blue as

Each April 2nd, Autism Speaks celebrates the start of its signature campaign, Light It Up Blue, along with the international autism community in recognition of UN sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day and April, World Autism Month.

They are clear–it’s not an autism event, it’s an Autism Speaks event. Apparently “along with the international autism community”. Which doesn’t appear to be joining in.

Blue, by the way, is not the color of autism (it doesn’t really have one). Blue is the color of Autism Speaks.

Want to do something for the autism community today? Take a look at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism’s article: Autism Acceptance Day & Month: Do This, Not That

By Matt Carey

Supreme Court unanimously decides: Special Ed students deserve more than the bare minimum

22 Mar

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today on an important Special Education case: Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The case involved an autistic student from Colorado who also has and ADHD diagnosis. The school district argued that they only had to offer a program that was above the bare minimum of education, basically show any benefit, to be appropriate.

NPR reports this as The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student, including this paragraph:

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, “appropriately ambitious” progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.

The decision was written by Chief Justice Roberts. He is quoted by an Education Week blog (Unanimous Supreme Court Expands Scope of Special Education Rights):

“When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all,” Roberts said.

“For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to ‘sitting idly … awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out,'” he added, quoting from key 1982 Supreme Court precedent on special education, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, that also dealt with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“The IDEA demands more,” the chief justice said. “It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

I will add: making progress in light of the child’s circumstances is what we expect for all students. This may be seen as “expanding the scope” of special education rights (as Education Week put it), but it is just brining special education rights up to the same standard as everyone else.

By Matt Carey

Study claims gluten free diet leads to higher levels of heavy metals like mercury

6 Mar

One of the purported treatments for autism is the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) diet. Studies have failed to find a benefit, but the idea persists. Especially among those who believe that autism is a vaccine injury (it isn’t) and that mercury in vaccines contributed to the rise in autism rates (it didn’t).

So there is a huge irony in the possibility, as a recent study suggests, that people on a gluten-free diet have higher levels of mercury and other heavy metals

The study is The Unintended Consequences of a Gluten-Free Diet.

The full study doesn’t appear to be available. This looks like a conference abstract.

That said, check out this table:


Total mercury in the blood is 1.7 times higher in people in the gluten-free diet group than in the overall population.

Now, it looks like the units in the table are ng/l, so a total mercury level of 1.3ng/l (that in the gluten-free group) is still well within the normal range (<10ng/l).

Of course it is also worth mentioning that those who promote the gluten-free diet for autistics often have the attitude that no mercury level is safe (which is tough, since there is mercury at some level in just about everything).

So, yeah, ironic but not dangerous. By pushing the gluten-free diet, people may have pushed autistic kids into higher levels of mercury in their blood.

Do we expect Robert Kennedy, SafeMinds, Mark Blaxill, JB Handley, Generation Rescue or any of the others in what was once called the “mercury militia” to inform their groups about this? Sure, if they are really about autism and not about attacking vaccines.

Which is to say, I doubt it.

By Matt Carey

How I spent the Disability Community Day of Mourning

2 Mar

Yesterday was the Disability Community Day of Mourning. A day to reflect back on the fact that many disabled people are murdered by those closest to them. And that our society downplays those murders. Recently, for example, the murderers of Alex Spourdalakis were let off with a short sentence and an “involuntary manslaughter” conviction.

Involuntary manslaughter.

Alex’s former mother and former godmother (how can one claim those titles after such an act?) tried to poison him with a drug overdose. When that failed they stabbed him multiple times and slit his wrist, almost severing his hand.

Involuntary manslaughter usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as a DUI). The usual distinction from voluntary manslaughter is that involuntary manslaughter (sometimes called “criminally negligent homicide”) is a crime in which the victim’s death is unintended.

Involuntary? Calling that involuntary is a signal that disabled lives matter less.

I didn’t intend to do something as a marker of the day, other than remember some people who specifically break my heart as well as the many, many whose stories I do not know.

No. Instead I went about my life as I often do. I took my family out to dinner at a favorite restaurant. OK, my wife wasn’t there, but we often go out on evenings when the other isn’t there. It’s sort of our way of saying, “OK, since you are having fun, so will we”.

At the restaurant we walked in and the owner looked up and gave us a big smile. He knows us. He knows my kid will be very obviously autistic during dinner. He knows that his entire restaurant will experience this. And he smiles. And he takes our order, by asking us if we will have our regular dishes.

When we were done I could hear the owner offering to move the people in the table behind us. I thought perhaps we were disturbing them, so I apologized if we were an annoyance. No, I was informed, it was just that there wasn’t much room between that table and the one behind it. In fact, he said, he and his wife enjoyed seeing us as a family enjoying our time out. Our time, our way. Our obviously autistic way.

After leaving it struck me–this may be the family that once paid for our meal. One time we went to the register to pay, only to be handed a note saying that some anymous person liked seeing us so much that they had paid for our meal.

Before those who can’t accept families with autistic children having a happy evening–or complain that by reporting it, we somehow demean the experiences of our communities–there is also this. My kid once had a very serious meltdown there. As my wife left the restaurant (which still welcomes us even though, yes, sometimes we have meltdowns) a woman came out of the restaurant and offered my wife help. She was familiar with autistic kids. Perhaps this helpful woman, this woman who bought our dinner and the family behind us last night were all the same. In the end, it doesn’t matter. There are people who accept us.

They accept us because they see us. Because we aren’t hidden. Because we go out in the world, with our obviously autistic behaviors, our meltdowns, all of it.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we have no challenges. That my kid’s life isn’t harder than most people’s lives. It does mean that even though it is hard, society isn’t making it harder.

And perhaps, just perhaps, some family who in the future has a disabled kid will look back and say–you know, this is going to be hard for all of us. But remember that family at that restaurant? At least there are places where we can go and people will accept us. At least my kid’s challenges won’t be compounded by a society that shames and disrespects him/her.

And maybe, just maybe, the more families who are out there, the more of us parents setting the example that we accept our children, there will be fewer parents who murder their disabled children.

A father can hope.

By Matt Carey

Katie McCarron, I still think of you often

2 Mar

Today is the Disability Community Day of Mourning.

Every year on March 1st, the disability community gathers across the nation to remember disabled victims of filicide–disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.

There are so many people who have died. So many who should be here today, except that a caregiver murdered them. Today is for all of them. But for this post, I just want to bring up one, if I may. A little girl who I never met, but think of often. A little girl who would be the same age as my kid.

Katie, you should be here. I shouldn’t know your name, but your family should be showing you the love that I know most of them felt so strongly for you.

Katie McCarron, you will be remembered as long as I live.


By Matt Carey