A victory in the long war against autism quackery

As depressing as the litany of quackery and patient harm that I follow nearly every day can become, occasionally I am heartened to learn of a victory for science-based medicine and, more importantly, for the patients being victimized by pseudoscientific treatments. One of the most simultaneously ridiculous and vile of these treatments is a solution known as the “Miracle Mineral Solution” or “Miracle Mineral Supplement” (MMS). MMS is the “discovery” of a man named Jim Humble who, for reasons only understood by antivaccinationists, HIV/AIDS denialists, quacks, and cranks, decided that ingesting or shooting up one’s nether regions a form of concentrated bleach would cure conditions ranging from AIDS to cancer to autism. For that is what MMS is, at its core. It’s a 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water that generates chlorine dioxide when diluted with a weak acidic solution. Often, when MMS is used as a “supplement” or treatment, the acidic solutions used to liberate chlorine dioxide are just citrus juices, like orange juice. Mostly, I’ve written about the use of MMS by the “autism biomed” movement in general and a quack named Kerri Rivera in particular to treat autism by “killing parasites” with MMS, administered orally and by enema, but MMS has been touted for far more than just that.

Aside from other MMS quacks Kerri Rivera, Jim Humble, and a man named Adam Abraham (a.k.a. The Phaelosopher), perhaps the most egregious MMS quack is a man named Louis Daniel Smith. Indeed, we’ve met Daniel Smith before in the context of a risibly inept defense of his quackery by, yes, The Phaelosopher himself, who also took umbrage at my aiming some of that not-so-Respectful Insolence you know and love that I reserve for the most dangerous or plain ridiculous of quacks at his “Genome Healing Workshop.” Pseudoscience about “healing” genes that any first year biology student could demonstrate to be as implausibly ridiculous as homeopathy aside, here’s where the good news comes in. It’s something that happened last week but I didn’t learn about until a couple of days ago. Let’s go to this press release from the US Department of Justice:

A federal jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned a guilty verdict yesterday against a Spokane, Washington, man for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and the common cold, the Department of Justice announced.

Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States. Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide and for hydraulic fracking and wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.

“This verdict demonstrates that the Department of Justice will prosecute those who sell dangerous chemicals as miracle cures to sick people and their desperate loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Consumers have the right to expect that the medicines that they purchase are safe and effective.” Mizer thanked the jury for its service and its careful consideration of the evidence.

The government presented evidence that Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water and drink the resulting mixture to cure numerous illnesses. Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration. According to the instructions for use that Smith provided with his product, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working. The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.

This is excellent news. It’s depressingly rare that the government takes a quack like Smith as seriously as he needs to be taken, to the point of going all in to prosecute him. It’s a prosecution that’s been going on since 2013, when the indictment of Smith and his accomplices was first announced. As Emil Karlsson notes, it might seem strange that Smith ended up being convicted of crimes such as smuggling, defrauding the government and misbranding of drugs. However, under the DSHEA of 1994, it’s very difficult to go after someone like Smith for selling something he claimed to be a supplement, almost no matter how ridiculous it is to call it a supplement. So they got Smith and his fellow criminals another way, basically noting that MMS is often sold with a “wink and a nod” as a water purification solution, much as home brew dichloroacetate was sold “with a wink and an nod” as a remedy for pets. The government was able to prove the case that Smith smuggled sodium chlorite into the United States from Canada using fraudulent invoices to hide the true end use of the product, falsely claiming that the chemicals they were purchasing were to be used in wastewater treatment facilities. Of course, given that they were selling four ounce bottles, the claim seems patently absurd right on the surface.

As Matt Carey explained, this is how the scam worked:

For only $20 you could get a 4-ounce bottle. That’s a savings of $5 off the regular price! Anyone want to do the calculations of how many 4-ounce bottles could be filled with a metric ton purchased for a few hundred dollars?

If one doesn’t want a ton shipped from China, Canada (where this team was sourcing their material) has sellers selling seven pound jars of the solid for $200. Not as big a profit margin as buying by the ton, but still a notable markup.

The “project green life” team point out that they are selling it as a water purification product only. If, by chance, you are planning on doing the “MMS protocol” they will provide you with information “for your safety and convenience”. And just in case, they have a one-stop shop in that they will sell you the second part of the MMS protocol, citric acid.

Wink. Nod. It’s just a water purification product, right? Sold at a huge profit. And for a small additional fee, one could also get the second part of the MMS product.

The most beautiful thing about this story is that Daniel Smith is going to jail, where he belongs. The maximum sentence for his crimes is 34 years in the federal penitentiary, although, federal sentencing guidelines being what they are, unfortunately he will probably get far less. Still, even if his sentence is just a couple of years, at least it’ll keep him out of the autism quackery business for a while. One can only hope they send him to one of the “nicer” federal pens. In any case, we’ll find out in September how long he’ll be locked away.

However long Smith and his co-conspirators are sent away, the fallout from their conviction among some of their friends is a joy to behold. Sadly, I haven’t (yet) seen a reaction yet on Mike Adams’ NaturalNews.com (although there were rants by his minions about “fighting judicial abuse” and the “medical mafia” a few months ago when the trial date was announced. On the other hand, Adam Abraham, the man who put the “fail” in Phaelosopher (the moniker he writes under) followed their seven day trial with growing alarm. A week before the trial began on May 18 Adams published a post entitled MMS and the Bigger Picture. Before you click on the link, let’s see if you can guess what sort of tack Abraham took defending Smith and MMS. Sure, he is outraged by the possibility of a 30+ year sentence if Smith were convicted. Never mind all the harm he and his cronies did by, in essence, selling the tools that enabled the torture of autistic children whose woefully misguided parents thought that shooting industrial strength bleach into their colons would somehow “recover” their child from autism and that Smith is incredibly unlikely to get anything near the maximum sentence. But there’s more. There’s always more.

Not surprisingly, Abraham tries to claim that MMS is not really bleach at all (it is) and that it’s just like an experimental drug. He doesn’t mention the specific drug, but I know that he’s probably referring to NP001, which is basically a modified form of WF10, which is basically sodium chlorite and has been tested with varying results as an immune modulator for various conditions, including the deadly degenerative neurologic disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Of course, this is somewhat true (NP001 appears to be sodium chlorite in a matrix that results in its gradual release), but also irrelevant.

So what’s the “bigger picture”? I think you know. It’s the same cry that we’ve been hearing from antivaccinationists lately about bills designed to make it more difficult for them to obtain nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. Yes, I’m talkin’ freedom, baby, spiced up with rants against conventional medicine:

The significance lies in whether the body politic of the self-professed “united” states of America will continue allowing its government to be an agent of lies and mis-information, calamity, and fear. This is a question you and I can answer, each in our own way.

A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people, need not be feared. Truth should be assumed, as well as equal treatment for all. Presently, 99 percent of the American public are being treated “equally” as indebted serfs and slaves. The health care system is the chief instigator of disease for profit, and killer of health, a fact the 1 percent, whoever they are, would prefer that you not know. This system of lies, deception, conflict, and exploitation began long before the Mayflower reached the shores of North America in 1620.

And, after the verdict was handed down:

It’s really difficult to read the allegations that were so purposefully fabricated and diligently pursued in order to “send a dissuasive message” to the public, and anyone who sells MMS, to “steer a wide berth” around this product. The message they are also sending, however, is that they are not concerned about public health, because they flat-out suggest that the “claims” associated with the use of MMS, are impossible, when reality says, they are true.

Of course, Abraham never really presents any evidence to support his contention that these claims are true, although he is good at doing a sciencey-sounding Gish gallop around the evidence. He does make one point in his accompanying video that I actually hope is true, when he says that this is not just about Daniel Smith but it’s also about the government going after MMS. (He says that as though it were a bad thing.) Certainly, I hope that, after three years of this quackery having spread like kudzu through the autism biomed community that the government is going after MMS quacks like Daniel Smith. It’s long overdue.

Indeed, one wonders if that’s the case. Another delicious incident associated with the verdict against Daniel Smith makes me wonder. We all know that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but I have to wonder if it does in this case. The reason is because the most famous MMS quack among the autism biomed community, Kerri Rivera, went silent a mere week and a half after her “triumphant” appearance at the 2015 edition of the quackfest known as Autism One. (Video here.) Basically, her websites and social media sites disappeared, leading to puzzlement among those of us who pay attention to autism quackery and even a post asking Where In The World Is Kerri Rivera?, which showed screenshots showing just how disturbed some of Rivera’s “admirers” were about her radio/Internet silence:

whereiskerri

Yes, her e-mail was not working, nor were any of her websites up any more, although eventually her main website CDAutism.org came back online, perhaps because they realized that their customers followers were panicking.

You know what would make me happy? I suspect it’s the same thing that would make many of you happy. What would make me happy would be to see Kerri Rivera share Daniel Smith’s fate. She deserves it.