Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chemical castration drug used to control kids on the autistic spectrum

As regular readers will know, both myself and Janine have personal interests in the rights of people on the autistic spectrum , and feel strongly that more should be done to support and understand . Not cure or experiment on. I myself have learnt lots from my aspie partner and would not seek to change or 'cure' him, but I am aware that the world is not always a welcoming place .

Given that I was shocked to read this :

Controversial treatment comes to South Florida

A Maryland medical group has started treating autistic children in South Florida with shots of a drug used for chemical castration, a therapy widely panned by mainstream experts.
The group gives children the cancer drug Lupron to stop their bodies from making testosterone, saying the drug helps expel toxic mercury and quells aggressive or sexually explicit behavior by kids with excessive levels of the male hormone.


But numerous physicians, researchers and therapists insist there’s no proof mercury causes autism, that Lupron removes mercury or that autistic kids have excessive testosterone. What’s more, the drug carries a risk of bone damage, stunted growth and heart trouble, and can render children impotent.
These experts contend that Lupron, costing about $5,000 a month but seldom covered by insurance, is one of many treatments that cash in on the desperation of parents trying to cope with an incurable condition for which medicine has few good answers outside of painstaking behavioral therapy.
“Not only is there no scientific backing whatsoever for Lupron treatments, there are several major concerns for the children’s health,” said neurologist BethAnn McLaughlin, an adviser to the Dan Marino Foundation autism group in Weston and the mother of two developmentally disabled children.
“These people are preying on the fears of parents. We cannot be using these children who are so vulnerable as guinea pigs in a medical experiment.”
Untested autism treatments have flourished while science struggles to explain the disorder, which disrupts the abilities to speak, concentrate, connect with people and control impulses.


A vocal subset of parents and activists blame vaccines, especially those with the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, which has been banned from virtually all as a precaution. Numerous studies have found no connection between autism and vaccines or thimerosal.
Lupron therapy grew from the mercury camp. Baltimore researcher Dr. Mark Geier started using the drug in 2005 on the theory – disputed by mainsteam doctors – that testosterone binds mercury in the body and that many autistic kids have high levels of the hormone.
Lupron halts production of the female hormone estrogen, which the body uses to make testosterone. The drug mainly is used to treat endometrial cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, and sometimes to chemically castrate sex offenders.
Geier’s promotional materials said he has treated hundreds of children with Lupron and has launched nine ASD Centers in eight states. In his latest, he teams with Dr. David Clayman, a Boca Raton radiologist who has an autistic teen son and is opening an ASD office beside his MRI center in Tamarac.


Lupron critics said autism parents may not understand the dangers.
The drug is not approved for children – except a rare few with premature puberty – because it can impair bone development crucial to growth, said Dr. Gary Berkovitz, chief of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Miami medical school.
It’s not recommended for people with heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, depression or seizures because it can worsen those conditions. Autistic children are prone to seizures.
“It has not been tested so there’s no way to know if it has adverse effects in the long run,” Berkovitz said.
Said neurologist McLaughlin: “We have very significant concerns about irreversible damage to sexual function and the brain and sex organs of these children.”


McLaughlin said parents should stick with slow and difficult but proven therapies. Teens struggling with sex can benefit from counseling, rewards for positive behavior, jobs or activities to keep them focused and, if needed, drugs to treat anxiety or sleep issues, she said.
“What we know works is a rough course,” she said. “Yes, we can do better. But what we don’t want is for families to lose faith in science and go off with people who … are violating the first rule of being a doctor, which is ‘first do no harm.’”

This is absolutely appalling and I am shocked that this is allowed in the US. I can understand that parents may be frustrated and that there may not be enough support in place , but to do this to your child is abuse. The parents fears are being exploited for money and the young person has no say in what happens to their body. It is about control rather than looking at longer term ways to help someone adapt to a neurotypical world. And to perhaps question whether that world is necessarily the best way to do things . This is truly a scary way to treat people and does nothing to work with difference ,understand and learn. It is about a quick buck . Aspies have the same rights as anyone else and this is a breach of them.