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OSR#1

30 Jun

My own contribution is here, with less science and more snark:

Please leave your comments there or here, it doesn’t matter.

Another Hero Of The Anti-Vaccine Movement Bites The Dust

29 Jun

So says Steven Salzberg in a Forbes blog post, Another Hero Of The Anti-Vaccine Movement Bites The Dust. Prof. Salzberg is referring to the recent FDA warning letter sent to Mr. Haley about his product, OSR#1. The FDA has warned Mr. Haley that his “supplement” meets the criteria for a drug and the testing involved indicates that there may be serious side effects.

Prof. Salzberg introduces Mr. Haley as a “hero of the antivaccine movement” for his outspoken positions on mercury, especially on thimerosal and autism. Prof. Salzberg poses and answers his own question:

Is Haley simply a confused chemist who fails to understand epidemiological evidence? Or does he have another agenda?

Well, he does: money.

The rest of the piece does not go favorably for Mr. Haley.

Given that piece, I decided to check the website for OSR #1. Mr. Haley has apparently not responded to the FDA formally as of yet but has responded on his website:

Why did the FDA send CTI Science, Inc. a warning letter about OSR#1®?

The FDA sent CTI Science, Inc. a warning letter dated June 17, 2010. They state that OSR#1® is not a dietary supplement because N1, N3-bis(2-mercaptoethyl)isophthalamide is not a known dietary ingredient. However, N1, N3-bis(2-mercaptoethyl)isophthalamide is a combination of two dietary ingredients, benzoate and cystamine coupled together by an amide linkage which is naturally found in proteins coupling amino acids together. The FDA further states that CTI Science, Inc. makes drug claims on its packaging, website and promotional material. CTI Science, Inc. does not believe that the claims it previously made about OSR#1® were drug claims. However, all claims the FDA referenced in its letter were removed from the website. The FDA further states that there may be a safety issue with regard to OSR#1®, because diarrhea was experienced in animal subjects when fed OSR#1® dissolved in corn oil by gavage three times daily at a rate of 5g per kg body weight. This would be the equivalent of 500g for a 220lb person or 5,000 capsules plus a bolus of corn oil. CTI Science, Inc. does not believe this diarrhea is a toxic effect as the animals continued to gain weight like controls and did not develop any toxic effects like ataxia. Using this definition any food, like milk, would be toxic if taken at such a high level.

The Company is evaluating the FDA letter and preparing its response

Now I am not a former chemistry professor, but a few points in the above statement struck me as odd.

First, he notes that his product is the combination of two dietary ingredients. Well, if the resulting chemical isn’t found in foods, isn’t that the real definition of “dietary ingredient”? It doesn’t matter what the source materials are. Heck, can’t you have synthetic sources of “dietary ingredients”? It is the end product, not the source materials that count.

Second, he hasn’t addressed all the issues that the FDA brought up in the warning letter.

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

Hair loss, “abnormalities of the pancreas”, “lymphoid hyperplasia”. Those are not mentioned on the OSR website.

Third, ” Using this definition any food, like milk, would be toxic if taken at such a high level.”. Did Mr. Haley just make a “the dose makes the poison” argument in his defense? Many people promoting the idea that mercury causes autism have rejected the “dose makes the poison” idea, claiming that any amount of mercury is toxic.

Back to Prof. Salzberg’s post. One observation: Forbes magazine is taking on the alternative medical community and their “treatments” for autism, at least in this one case. But take a look at the tags attached to the piece: “antivaccinationist, Autism, Boyd Haley, chelation, mercury, pseudoscience, thimerosal, vaccines”. Ouch.

Supporters of OSR #1, “drug” given to autistic children, see FDA warning as no big deal

24 Jun

The story broke yesterday that Dr. Boyd Haley has been given a warning letter by the FDA about his chelating product, OSR #1. The FDA has warned Dr. Haley that his own safety tests indicate the possibility for adverse reactions and that since the substance is not found in any food or mineral, it is not a “supplement” as he markets it, but a drug. Drugs require much higher standards of proof of safety.

One could make an easy bet that the Age of Autism blog, which has helped tout the drug/supplement OSR, would come to Dr. Haley’s defense. The way they went about this is quite surprising to me. In Chicago Tribune Protecting Consumers Against Natural Supplement (Again), the Age of Autism writes:

CTI Science got a letter from the FDA about its ingredients. They will respond. Dr. Weil got a similar letter last year when he dared to offer an immune support formula in place of the H1N1 vaccine. Drug companies get the letters every day of the week for their advertising claims. You think 50,000 people in America even know what OSR is? They will now.

Yes–the letter from the FDA is no big deal. One of their favorite alternative medical practitioners got one last year, and the pharmaceutical companies get them too. While it isn’t mentioned in the AoA piece, Dr. Weil appears to have ignored the warning letter without any repercussions as no response has been recorded.

Yes, “you don’t have to respond to the FDA’s letters” appears to be a valid excuse to the Age of Autism.

There is a major difference between the warning letters sent to Dr. Haley and Dr. Weil. Dr. Haley’s letter shows that his own safety data, data not previously made public from what I can see, indicates the drug he is selling has the potential to cause adverse reactions. Dr. Weil appears to be only making claims of efficacy which he can’t back up. Only.

And, yes, big companies flout the FDA letters too. Merck, a giant pharmaceutical company, has one warning letter. One. That’s for Vioxx. Merck didn’t respond. That didn’t exactly go well for them, did it?

The full warning letter to Dr. Weil is quoted below.

TO XXXXXXXXX
http://www.drweil.com

FROM: The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission

RE: Unapproved/Uncleared/Unauthorized Products Related to the H1N1 Flu Virus; and

Notice of Potential Illegal Marketing of Products to Prevent, Treat or Cure the H1N1 Virus

DATE: October 15, 2009

WARNING LETTER

This is to advise you that the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reviewed your website at the Internet address http://www.drweil.com on October 13, 2009. The FDA has determined that your website offers a
product for sale that is intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people. This product has not been approved, cleared, or otherwise authorized by FDA for use in the diagnosis, mitigation, prevention, treatment, or cure of the H1N1 Flu Virus.

This product is your Immune Support Formula. The marketing of this product violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDC Act). 21 U.S.C. §§ 331, 351, 352. We request that you immediately cease marketing unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized products for the diagnosis, mitigation, prevention, treatment, or cure of the H1N1 Flu Virus.

In addition, FTC staff reminds you that the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., requires that claims that a dietary supplement can prevent, treat, or cure human infection with the H1N1 virus, must be supported by well-controlled human clinical studies at the time the claims are made. More generally, it is against the law to make or exaggerate health claims, whether directly or indirectly, through the use of a product name, website name, metatags, or other means, without rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims. Violations of the FTC Act may result in legal action in the form of a Federal District Court injunction or Administrative Order. An order also may require that you pay back money to consumers.

Some examples of the claims on your website include:

On a webpage entitled, “The Swine Flu – H1N1 ,” with the subtitle “Swine Flu and You”:

“[D]uring the flu season, I suggest taking a daily antioxidant, multivitamin-mineral supplement, as well as astragalus, a well-known immune-boosting herb that can help ward off colds and flu. You might also consider. .. the Weil Immune Support Formula[,] which contains both astragalus and immune-supportive polypore mushrooms ….”

On a product webpage describing the Immune Support Formula:

“The Immune Support Formula contains astragalus. . . . Astragalus … is used traditionally to ward off colds and flu and has been well studied for its antiviral and immunity-enhancing properties.”

“Th[e] synergistic combination of immune modulators [found in the Immune Support Formula] is especially useful for those who tend to get every bug that goes around during the winter.”

On the same webpage, under “Supplement Facts,” describing the Astragalus supplement (which is one element of the Immune Support Formula):

“Astragalus … is … used traditionally to ward off colds and flu, and has demonstrated both antiviral and immune-boosting effects in scientific investigation.”

On the website’s home page, DrWeil.com:

“Worried About Flu? Dr. Weil’s Immune Support Formula can help maintain a strong defense against the flu. It contains astragalus, a traditional herb that boosts immunity. Buy it now in one click, and start protecting your immune system against flu this season.”

On the Dr. Weil Vitamins – Daily Vitamin Packs webpage:

“[L]earn more about Dr. Weil’s Immune Support Formula, which contains astragalus – an herb Dr. Weil recommends to help ward off colds and flu.”

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 247d, has determined that a public health emergency exists nationwide involving the H1N1 Flu Virus that affects or has the significant potential to affect national
security. Following this determination and in response to requests from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FDA issued letters authorizing the emergency use of certain unapproved and uncleared products or unapproved or uncleared uses of approved or cleared products, provided certain criteria are met, under 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3. The marketing and sale of unapproved or uncleared H1N1 Flu Virus-related products that are not authorized by and used in accordance with the conditions of an Emergency Use Authorization, is a potentially significant threat to the public health. Therefore, FDA is taking urgent measures to protect consumers from products that, without approval or authorization by FDA, claim to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure H1N1 Flu Virus in people.

You should take immediate action to ensure that your firm is .not marketing, and does not market in the future, products intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus that have not been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA. The above is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of violations. It is your responsibility to ensure that the products you market are in compliance with the FFDC Act and FDA’s implementing regulations. We advise you to review your websites, product labels, and other labeling and promotional materials to ensure that the claims you make for your products do not adulterate or misbrand the products in violation of the FFDC Act. 21 U.S.C. §§ 331, 351, 352. Within 48 hours, please send an email to FDAFLUTASKFORCECFSAN@fda.hhs.gov, describing the actions that you have taken or plan to take to address your firm’s violations. If your firm fails to take corrective action immediately, FDA may take enforcement action, such as seizure or injunction for violations of the FFDC Act without further notice. Firms that fail to take corrective action may also be referred to FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations for possible criminal prosecution for violations of the FFDC Act and other federal laws.

FDA is advising consumers not to purchase or use H1N1 Flu Virus-related products offered for sale that have not been approved, cleared, or authorized by FDA. Your firm will be added to a published list on FDA’s website of firms and websites that have received warning letters from FDA concerning marketing unapproved, uncleared and unauthorized H1N1 Flu Virus-related products in violation of the FFDC Act. This list can be found at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/h1n1flu. Once the violative claims and/or products have been removed from your website, and these corrective actions have been confirmed by the FDA, the published list will be’ updated to indicate that your firm has taken appropriate corrective action.

If you are not located in the United States, please note that unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized products intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus offered for importation into the United States are subject to detention and refusal of admission. We will advise the appropriate regulatory or law enforcement officials in the country from which you operate that FDA considers your product listed above to be an unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized product that cannot be legally sold to consumers in the United States.

Please direct any inquiries to FDA at FDAFLUTASKFORCECFSAN@fda.hhs.gov or by contacting Kathleen Lewis at 301-436-2148.

It is also your responsibility to ensure that the products you market are in compliance with the FTC Act. FTC staff strongly urge you to review all claims for your products and ensure that those claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The FTC also asks that you notify it via electronic mail at flu@ftc.gov within 48 hours of the specific actions you have taken to address the agency’s concerns. If you have any questions regarding compliance with the FTC Act, please contact Karen Jagielski at 202-326-2509.

Very truly yours,

/S/
Mary K. Engle
Associate Director
Division of Advertising Practices
Federal Trade Commission

/S/
Roberta F. Wagner
Director
Office of Compliance
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Food and Drug Administration

FDA warns maker of OSR #1, dietary supplement for autistic children is a “toxic” “drug”

24 Jun

“OSR#1 is not a dietary supplement but a toxic, unapproved drug with serious potential side effects, FDA warns”. So starts a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, FDA warns maker of product used as alternative autism treatment.

The article is by Trine Tsuderos who has previously reported on the the industrial chelator turned dietary supplement in Industrial chemical OSR#1 used as autism treatment.

According to the website for the product, “OSR#1® is a toxicity free, lipid soluble antioxidant dietary supplement that helps maintain a healthy glutathione level”. According to the story in the Tribune, the claim of “toxicity free” may not be accurate. According to the Tribune story:

The FDA letter lists side effects recorded during Haley’s animal studies: “soiling of the anogenital area, alopecia (hair loss) on the lower trunk, back and legs, a dark substance on lower trunk and anogenital area, abnormalities of the pancreas” and a rapid increase in normal cells contained in the lymph nodes.

Here is that section of the letter in full:

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.

Mr. Haley is not unused to criticism of his so-called supplement. After the previous story by the Tribune, Boyd Haley tweeted multiple times “Contrary to the Chicago Tribune implication, OSR1 has undergone extensive safety testing. The truth is at http://www.OSR1.com. Please retweet!” When I checked the OSR website, I could find no mention of these test results–the results Boyd Haley himself submitted to the FDA. Is that the “truth”?

The Tribune quotes Ellen Silbergeld, a John’s Hopkins researcher:

“It would be hard to imagine anything worse,” said Ellen Silbergeld, an expert in environmental health who is studying mercury and autism at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. “An industrial chemical known to be toxic — his own incomplete testing indicates it is toxic. It has no record of any therapeutic aspect of it, and it is being marketed for use in children.”

and

Silbergeld said the product represents a clear example of endangerment of public health and that the FDA should stop CTI Science from selling it immediately. She drew a comparison to a city’s drinking water system: If contamination is found, she said, “they turn off the pumps.”

“They don’t have to engage in a long discussion with you,” Silbergeld said. “It would be hard to imagine a more clear example of immediate endangerment of public health. Turn off the pump.”

Kim Stagliano, Managing Editor of the Age of Autism blog, has touted OSR #1 in the past. She was quoted in the Tribune article:

In an e-mail, Stagliano wrote that she continues to support Haley, a regular speaker at autism recovery conferences. “Having met Dr. Haley at conferences, including Autism One in Chicago last month, I continue to trust his science,” she wrote on Wednesday. “I’m sure CTI Science will address the letter appropriately.”

There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the fact that Prof. Haley appears to have withheld safety information from the autism community. She “trusts his science”, yet makes no mention of the fact that it is precisely “his science” that indicates that this chemical is toxic.

The warning letter from the FDA is quoted below:

WARNING LETTER CIN-10-107927-14

Boyd E. Haley, President
CTI Science, Inc.
2430 Palumbo Drive, Suite 140
Lexington, Kentucky 40509

Dear Mr. Haley:

This letter concerns your firm’s marketing of the product OSR#1 on your website, http://www.ctiscience.com.This product is marketed in violation of provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) as described below.

Your firm markets OSR#l as a dietary supplement; however, this product does not meet the definition of a dietary supplement in section 201(ff) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(ff). To be a dietary supplement, a product must, among other things, “bear[ ] or contain[ ] one or more … dietary ingredients” as defined in section 201(ff)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C.§ 321(ff)(1). Section 201 (ff)(1) of the Act defines “dietary ingredient” as a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical, or dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of any dietary ingredient from the preceding categories. The only substance listed as a dietary ingredient on the labeling of OSR#1 is N1,N3-bis(2-mercaptoethyl)isophthalamide. N1,N3-bis(2mercaptoethyl) isophthalamide is not a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical, or dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake. Further, N1,N3-bis(2-mercaptoethyl)isophthalamide is not a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of any such dietary ingredient. Thus, because OSR#1 does not bear or contain a dietary ingredient as defined in section 201(ff)(1) of the Act, this product does not qualify as a dietary supplement under section 201(ff) of the Act.
Your website includes claims such as the following:

• “OSR#1® … helps maintain a healthy glutathione level.”

• “Both OSR#1® and glutathione scavenge free radicals, allowing the body to maintain its own natural detoxifying capacity.”

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.

Your website includes the following statements: “Thyroid conditions, hypertension, and diabetes: Because thyroid conditions, hypertension, and diabetes have been associated with low glutathione levels …” and “OSR#1® … helps maintain a healthy glutathione level.” These statements suggest that OSR#1 is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Because thyroid conditions, hypertension, and diabetes are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners, adequate directions cannot be written so that a layman can use it safely for its intended uses. Thus, OSR#1’s labeling fails to bear adequate directions for its intended uses, causing it to be misbranded under section 502(f)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352(f)(1). OSR#1 is not exempt under 21 C.F.R. §§ 201.100(c)(2) and 201.115 from the requirement that its labeling bear adequate directions for use because OSR#1 lacks an approved application.

Additionally, under section 502(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352(a), a drug is misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any particular. Section 201(n) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(n), provides that, “in determining whether a drug’s labeling or advertising is misleading, there shall be taken into account (among other things) not only representations made or suggested … but also the extent to which the labeling or advertising fails to reveal facts material in light of such representations ….” 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).

Because the labeling does not warn consumers of the above-mentioned potential for side effects, the product OSR#1 is also misbranded under section 502(f)(2) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352(f)(2), in that the labeling lacks adequate warnings for the protection of users. The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of this misbranded drug violates section 301(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a).

The issues and violations cited in this letter are not intended to be an all-inclusive statement of violations that exist in connection with your product. You are responsible for investigating and determining the causes of the violations identified above and for preventing their recurrence or the occurrence of other violations. It is your responsibility to ensure that your firm complies with all requirements of federal law and FDA regulations. In this regard, please note that products are misbranded under section 502(j) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352(j) if they are dangerous to health when used in the dosage or manner; or with the frequency or duration prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the products’ labeling.

You should take prompt action to correct the violations cited in this letter. Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in legal action, without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction. Other federal agencies may take this Warning Letter into account when considering the award of contracts.

Within fifteen working days of receipt of this letter, please notify this office in writing of the specific steps that you have taken to correct violations. Include an explanation of each step being taken to prevent the recurrence of violations, as well as copies of related documentation. If you cannot complete corrective action within fifteen working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the correction. Furthermore, please advise this office what actions you will take to address product that you have already distributed. Additionally, if another firm manufactures the product identified above, your reply should include the name and address of the manufacturer. If the firm from which you receive the product is not the manufacturer, please include the name of your supplier in addition to the manufacturer. Address your reply to the Food and Drug Administration, 6751 Steger Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237, Attention: Stephen J. Rabe, Compliance Officer.

A description of the new drug approval process can be found on FDA’s internet website at
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/ApprovalApplications/NewDrugApplicationNDA/default.htm. Any questions you may have regarding this process should be directed to the Food and Drug Administration, Division of Drug Information, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20993.

Sincerely,

/s/

Teresa C. Thompson
Cincinnati District

This story is being discussed at Countering Age of Autism as FDA Steps Up to the Plate on OSR#1.

Addenda:

CTI solicited charitable donations to help get started through the CTI Science Foundation, which includes “Katie Wright, Julie Obradovic, Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, Dr. Julie Buckley, Scott Barli and Kathryn Wachsman”

Kim Stagliano discussed previous Tribune stories and the question of toxicity of OSR in another piece

I was contacted by Ms. Tsouderos for an interview about her forthcoming article on a supplement called OSR from CTI Science. CTI’s Science’s FAQ page says OSR is less toxic than aspirin and Vitamin E. If the Tribune has its own toxicity testing, I’m sure readers will be interested in seeing the data. In light of the skewing of parental interviews in the past, I chose not to respond to her requests for an interview. Others, like the founder of CTI Science, Dr. Boyd Haley, graciously allowed the interview process to continue until such time as it became clear that the writer’s goal precluded gaining meaningful insight.

It appears to this reader that perhaps it was CTI Science and Boyd Haley who may have kept the readers from obtaining “meaningful insight”. If a reporter asks about toxicity and you have data showing hair loss, discolorations, and “abnormalities of the pancreas, and lymphoid hyperplasia” shouldn’t you produce that data?

Pity for the Rankins

26 Jan

Its no secret that Wade and I were once pretty good internet pals. We regularly communicated despite our staunch opposition to the others beliefs regarding vaccines role in autism. That changed however as Wade sunk deeper and deeper into the bad science surrounding autism.

Wade and his wife Sym have recently been the subject of a piece by the Chicagoist following Wade’s open letter to the Trib. The Chicagoist reporter (one Mr Carlson) had obviously read both the Trib articles and Wade’s open letter before writing his own piece.

And now Wade has been obligated into writing yet another blog piece as it seems the Chicagoist has taken a similar line to the Trib. Wade says:

Reading through Mr. Carlson’s brief post gave me the distinct impression that somehow the meaning of our letter had gotten lost,

A brief digression. Wade and his family used to live in the South and were affected very badly by Hurricane Katrina. Once the dust had settled they decided to resettle in Chicago. Once there I learned they had become aquainted with the infamous Erik Nanstiel and David Ayoub, both hardcore believers of the vaccine causes autism idea. Not long after that Wade’s own beliefs on the subject hardened and it wasn’t difficult to see where this hardening of beliefs was being hardened from. I found it increasingly difficult to accept the things Wade was saying. An intellegent man, his new beliefs can be summed up in his opinion of Lupron and OSR.

…we have not, as yet, utilized either the Lupron protocol or OSR #1, both of which were the subjects of Tribune smear pieces. That is not to say, however, that those interventions may not be appropriate treatments in particular circumstances. On the contrary, we know families that these interventions have helped…

The old Wade would not have ever considered using these snake oil treatments. The old Wade would not have described the Trib articles as ‘smear pieces’. The old Wade wouldn’t have described knowing families who did use them and would have been much less credulous about their effectiveness.

SO, back to Wade’s statement that he believed the meaning of his open letter had been lost. It was lost, he’s right. It was totally lost on Carlson, it was totally lost on the commenters to the site and its totally lost to people like me. Not that I’m singling myself out for any special praise – thats kind of the point. I’m just an ordinary person with no special agenda and yet Wade’s point is totally lost on me and I very much suspect the vast majority of people who read Carlson’s piece or either of Wade’s long pieces on the subject. (Its hard to say which of the two points of the Somerset Maugham quote Wade utilises for his blog ‘Have common sense and … stick to the point’ that Wade has more strongly abandoned).

I miss the old Wade very much – a strong, principled and funny man, Wade has become just another sad foot soldier in Jenny McCarthy’s Bimbo Brigade alongside his fellow Chicago hardcore believers. His child is 10 years old and I doubt very much that xe is anywhere even approaching the level of ‘cure’ or ‘recovery’ that Wade has been promised by the various DAN doctors and new friends I have no doubt xe has been worked through. Wade’s tone in both of his blog pieces is a sad, tired sort of bewilderment – a bewilderment that the world just can’t see what he can apparently see. Sadly – pitifully – the viewpoint that he has adopted only means he’s going to become more bewildered.

OSR#1: Industrial chemical or autism treatment?

26 Jan

The Chicago Tribune has added another chapter to their ongoing series posing difficult questions to the autism alternative medical community. OSR#1: Industrial chemical or autism treatment?, by Trine Tsouderos demonstrates the very low standards the alt-med community is willing to accept, at least when it comes to “supplements”.

OSR#1 is being marketed as a supplement by Boyd Haley, retired professor of Chemistry from the University of Kentucky. The chemical used is a powerful chelator, which will come as no surprise to those familiar with Dr. Haley’s history as a proponent of the mercury causation theory in autism. However, “chelation” is not mentioned in the marketing for OSR#1.

Trine Tsudorous has a style I like. She asks very tough questions, points the spotlight on questionable practices and backs up her stories with quotes from experts in the field.

One of the biggest questions raised about OSR#1 is whether the appropriate safety testing has been performed. The marketing doesn’t mention that the chemical used is a chelator.

The company that makes the supplement, CTI Science, describes it as an antioxidant. But pharmacologist Dr. Arthur Grollman, director of the Laboratory for Chemical Biology at State University of New York at Stony Brook, said it is obvious from the product’s chemical structure that it is also a “powerful chelator,” a compound that binds to heavy metals such as mercury.

Note that CTI Science used to be called “Chelator Technologies, inc”. The chemical used in OSR#1 was invented (and patented) by a colleague of Dr. Haley’s at the University of Kentucky. According to the Tribune story, the original purpose of the chemical was to chelate “heavy metals from soil and acid mine drainage.”

Why would someone avoid calling a chelator a chelator? Especially in the autism alternative-medical community which has been led to believe that chelation is a valid treatment for autism? It appears that chelators are drugs and, as such, are subject to much more stringent and costly safety and efficacy testing than supplements. Dr. Haley is quoted as describing the chemical as “a food”. To my knowledge, this chemical is not found in nature and is not an extract from some food but, rather, a synthetic compound.

From the FAQ for OSR#1

Is OSR#1® a natural compound?

OSR#1® is a combination of two natural compounds that are non-toxic.

Perhaps I missed something–but either this is dodging the question or this is an admission that OSR is not a natural compound. However, either way the wording is carefully chosen.

Ms. Tsuderous brought in an expert on antioxidants for her story as w ell.

“I would worry a lot about giving anything to a small child that hasn’t been scrutinized for both safety and efficacy by the FDA,” said antioxidant expert Dr. L. Jackson Roberts, a pharmacologist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Which brings up the question, has the safety and efficacy been scrutinized by the FDA? From the Tribune story:

In January 2008 Haley changed the name of his company from Chelator Technologies Inc. to CTI Science Inc. Less than a month later, he notified the FDA he would be introducing the compound as a new dietary ingredient.

Federal law allows manufacturers of dietary supplements to market them without the rigorous testing for safety and efficacy the FDA requires of drugs. Developing, testing and bringing a drug to market can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to some studies.

But the law does require makers of supplements containing new dietary ingredients — such as OSR#1 — to establish that the product can be expected to be safe.

In June 2008, an FDA senior toxicologist sent a letter to Haley that questioned on what basis the product could be expected to be safe and could be considered a dietary ingredient. According to FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey, Haley has not responded to the request for more information.

DeLancey declined to discuss OSR#1 specifically, but she said the government prohibits companies from selling a product until the safety requirement is satisfied. Penalties can include warning letters, seizure of products or criminal prosecution. DeLancey said she did not know of any actions taken against Haley or his company.

Haley did not respond to questions from the Tribune about the FDA.

Well, Dr. Haley hasn’t responded to the request for more information. He could face…a warning letter. Sorry, that just summons up images of Michael Palin doing the “Spanish Inquisition” sketch from Monty Python. So far the FDA seems to have let this case slide for over a year, and should they focus attention on OSR#1 and find fault they might issue a “warning letter”? Has the FDA no teeth?

Some of the questions that arise in my mind reading this article are:

1) Is OSR#1 a chelator?
2) is it being marketed as an antioxidant/supplement to avoid the more costly and time consuming process of approving a drug?
3) is the level of safety testing OSR#1 has undergone appropriate?
4) are the customers for OSR#1 buying it as a chelator or as an antioxidant/supplement?

Let’s take a look at these questions

First, is OSR#1 a chelator? It appears the answer is a fairly clear Yes:

The company that makes the supplement, CTI Science, describes it as an antioxidant. But pharmacologist Dr. Arthur Grollman, director of the Laboratory for Chemical Biology at State University of New York at Stony Brook, said it is obvious from the product’s chemical structure that it is also a “powerful chelator,” a compound that binds to heavy metals such as mercury.

Second, is OSR#1 being marketed as an antioxidant/supplement to avoid the more costly and time consuming process of approving a drug? I don’t think we can tell the motivations of Dr. Haley or his company. However, the Tribune story seems to ask the same question:

In January 2008 Haley changed the name of his company from Chelator Technologies Inc. to CTI Science Inc. Less than a month later, he notified the FDA he would be introducing the compound as a new dietary ingredient.

Federal law allows manufacturers of dietary supplements to market them without the rigorous testing for safety and efficacy the FDA requires of drugs. Developing, testing and bringing a drug to market can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to some studies.

Third, is the level of safety testing appropriate? Again, the Tribune brings up the question of whether the FDA has had all its questions answered, even for the lower standard of a supplement.

While not directly on point as to the safety testing, two quotes from the Tribune story stick in my mind when it comes to safety/efficacy:

Ellen Silbergeld, an expert in environmental health and a researcher funded by the National Institutes of Health studying mercury and autism at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said she found the sale of the chemical as a supplement for children “appalling.”

and

“Treatment of autistic children with a potent chelator is potentially hazardous and offers no benefits,” Grollman said.

Lastly, I posed the question of whether the customers for OSR#1 are buying it as an “antioxidant/supplement” or as a chelator. Again, it is very difficult to ascribe motivations. However, I will point out that in over 400 comments to the Tribune piece, few (if any!) discuss OSR as an antioxidant. Instead there is much discussion of mercury. Rather odd discussion for something that is marketed “only as an antioxidant supplement”.

If you want more details than in the Tribune article, OSR was discussed by Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity.com in three articles:

A Fine White Powder

The Industrial Treatment

and

An Inquiry Emerges

Kathleen Seidel is the blogger with the most thoroughly researched articles I have ever seen.

One of the complaints about Ms. Tsudorous’ previous articles, posed by those promoting alternative medical treatments for autism, is that she didn’t seek out “balance”. First, Ms. Tsudorous did enough hard legwork to support her stories without having to rely on pitting parent/advocate opinion on an equal footing with medical experts. Second, Ms. Tsudorous attempted to get comments from a prominent parent/advocate who had publicly touted OSR#1. The parent declined to let her opinion be heard.

The bottom line for this autism parent? OSR#1 doesn’t come close to being something I would give to my child, no matter whether you call it a supplement or a drug. First I side with Dr. Grollman (“Treatment of autistic children with a potent chelator is potentially hazardous and offers no benefits”). Second, what I have seen of the safety studies doesn’t meet my standards. That’s putting it lightly.

edit to add: the Tribune has posted some of the communications between the FDA and the company selling OSR#1:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2010-01/51678955.pdf

The Tribune leads the way on autism coverage

19 Jan

The story sounds too lurid to be true – ignoring FDA regulations, a retired chemistry professor takes a chemical used to treat toxic waste,  and repackages it as a dietary supplement for disabled children. Welcome to the world of autism quackery.

The story in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune is the latest in a year-long investigation into America’s anti-vaccine movement, and its spin-off treatment industries. Last May the newspaper introduced us to <a href=”http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-autism-lupron-geiers-may21,0,983359.story”>a Maryland physician</a> who purports to treat autism with Lupron, a powerful castration drug also used to treat sex offenders. In November, reporters Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan showed how alternative practitioners <a href=”http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-autism-science-nov23,0,6519404,full.story”>misrepresent legitimate science</a>, and <a href=”http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-autism-treatments-nov22,0,7095563,full.story”>use phony lab results</a>, to push quack autism treatments. “There is a whole industry that preys on people’s fears of heavy metal poisoning,” said Dr. Carl R. Baum, director of the Center for Children’s Environmental Toxicology at Yale- New Haven Children’s Hospital, something that comes as no surprise to the nation’s 60,000 pediatricians.

The latest story introduces us to Prof. Boyd Haley, a retired former head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, and a micro-celebrity in the vaccine-rejection community. His wonder-drug, called OSR#1, was first formulated as an industrial chemical that separates heavy metals from polluted soil and mining drainage. Haley first repurposed the chemical as a chelating agent for treating autism, but when FDA approval was not forthcoming, he rebranded OSR as a nutritional supplement. Only one problem – the FDA says food supplements must be, uh, edible.

No wonder Haley runs from publicity he can’t control.

Federal law requires manufacturers to explain why a new dietary ingredient reasonably can be expected to be safe. The Food and Drug Administration told the Tribune that Haley had not submitted sufficient information.

In an interview, Haley said that the compound had been tested on rats and that a food safety study was conducted on 10 people. Asked to provide documentation of the studies, he stopped communicating with the Tribune.

Experts expressed dismay upon hearing children were consuming a chemical not evaluated in formal clinical trials for safety, as would be required for a drug prescribed by doctors.

Ellen Silbergeld, an expert in environmental health and a researcher funded by the National Institutes of Health studying mercury and autism at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said she found the sale of the chemical as a supplement for children “appalling.”

“I would worry a lot about giving anything to a small child that hasn’t been scrutinized for both safety and efficacy by the FDA,” said antioxidant expert Dr. L. Jackson Roberts, a pharmacologist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The anti-vaccine movement has long relied on message control to convince parents that vaccines were more risky than the diseases they protect us against, and for too long credulous editors and reporters obliged with dutiful stenography and false balance. The Tribune’s coverage shows us that those days are numbered.

Cross-posted at AutismNewsBeat.com