FDA announces crackdown on chelation therapy — finally!

I’ve written about chelation for many years. In my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I conclude, “Evidence against (chelation’s) effectiveness in heart disease is so clear, its continued use raises serious ethical questions. The therapy is very expensive and can be very lucrative for providers. But, it’s virtually worthless for consumers.” Some of my past blogs on chelation have included: Chelation therapy for autism not only potentially harmful, it’s based on faulty premise and Federal investigators uncover major problems with chelation study. Now, finally, comes news that the FDA is going to crack down on these quacks.

The Washington Post reports that officials from the Food and Drug Administration have “announced a crackdown on” chelation, “a controversial therapy widely hawked on the Internet and elsewhere as an alternative treatment for conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by ‘cleansing’ the body.”

In fact, the FDA “said it has sent warning letters to several companies notifying them that the substances they sell without a prescription for …’chelation’ are ‘unapproved drugs and devices,’ which makes them illegal.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that the chemicals used in chelation, “which help remove metals from the body, are potent drugs that carry serious risks, including kidney damage, dehydration, and even death, said FDA Medical Officer Dr. Charles Lee.”

In a separate but related piece, the Chicago Tribune notes that the FDA letters “come a year after a Chicago Tribune investigation found chelation treatment is popular among parents of children with autism, even though the therapy is … based on a disproven hypothesis that children with the disorder are actually suffering heavy metal poisoning.”

In fact, “in 2008, the National Institutes of Health halted a controversial government-funded study of chelation before a single child with autism was treated” after investigators “had found that rats without lead poisoning showed signs of cognitive damage after being treated with a chelator.”

The AP reported that the agency’s “warning letters call on each company to immediately stop marketing and selling their products or face legal action.” The products in question are freely available online and “come in a variety of forms, including sprays, capsules and drops.”

You can learn more about chelation is the QuackWatch.com article, Chelation Therapy: Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories, or read my chelation chapter in Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook.

Chelation Therapy:
Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories

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