Dangerous therapy

Writing in the Chicago (IL, US) Tribune, Trine Tsouderos has published an informed and valuable story about the use of Lupron to treat Autism.

Desperate to help their autistic children, hundreds of parents nationwide are turning to an unproven and potentially damaging treatment: multiple high doses of a drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders.

The therapy is based on a theory, unsupported by mainstream medicine, that autism is caused by a harmful link between mercury and testosterone. Children with autism have too much of the hormone, according to the theory, and a drug called Lupron can fix that.

“Lupron is the miracle drug,” Dr. Mark Geier of Maryland said after meeting with an autistic patient in suburban Chicago.

Geier and his son developed the “Lupron protocol” for autism and are marketing it across the country, opening clinics in states from Washington to New Jersey. In the Chicago area, the treatment is available through Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, a family practitioner in Rolling Meadows.

As is usually the case with these sorts of therapies, testimonials are the main source of evidence about effectiveness. There are no controlled studies of pharmacotherapy with Lupron for children with Autism. The drug, which decreases secretion of gonadotropins, is legitimately used in treating prostate or breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or precocious puberty.

Link to “‘Miracle drug’ called junk science: Powerful castration drug pushed for autistic children, but medical experts denounce unproven claims.” Also, see a companion piece entitled “Autism doctor: Troubling record trails doctor treating autism,” in which Patricia Callahan and Ms. Tsouderos provide a detailed report of the history of one of the physcians in the Chicago area, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, who has been prescribing Lupron for children with Autism.

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