Boyd Haley, a retired chemist, and his company, CTI Science, have been promoting OSR#1 as a substance with potentially large benefits and no dangerous side effects, the Chicago Tribune reports. The FDA in a letter sent last week disputed his claims and said he faces fines and possible prosecution if he continues to sell OSR#1 and does not respond to the letter within 15 working days.
OSR#1 is a chelator, a chemical that binds to mercury and other heavy metals. Its use is based on an unproved theory that links autism to mercury.
"It would be hard to imagine anything worse," said Ellen Silbergeld, a researcher at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins who has been studying autism and mercury.
"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."
Haley is a hero to many who believe in alternative treatments for autism. The "Age of Autism" Web site carried a story Thursday mocking the Tribune with a headline saying the newspaper is "protecting consumers against a natural supplement (again)."