The supplement market has been hit with some pretty negative press over the last week, thanks to the meta-analysis questioning the safety of calcium supplements and Consumer Reports’ cover story on what it calls “the 12 most dangerous supplements.” Yet, it’s a third piece of news that broke regarding a product called the Miracle Mineral Solution that has me concerned. After all, the quality and validity of the calcium meta-analysis is debatable, and the Consumer Reports piece also advises consumers to consider taking what the magazine says are 11 safe and beneficial supplements—but I believe the MMS issue is a symptom of a more serious problem that threatens the legitimacy of the entire supplement industry.
On July 30, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to consumers about Miracle Mineral Solution (also called Miracle Mineral Supplement and MMS). What’s the cause of FDA’s concern? Well, apparently when this product is consumed according to the directions on its label, this liquid mineral supplement turns into a “potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment,” the agency reported in a warning letter to consumers. As if that weren’t alarming enough, MMS marketers and distributors claim the product can treat an unbelievable range of diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, the H1N1 flu virus, acne and cancer.
Available for purchase via a wide range of Internet sites (including Amazon.com and eBay) and sold through several different companies, MMS contains 28% sodium chlorite. The product’s labeling advises consumers to mix MMS with an acidic drink such as orange juice, which turns the solution into an industrial-strength bleach. The FDA said it received several reports from consumers using MMS who experienced serious adverse reactions, including “severe nausea, vomiting and life-threatening low-blood pressure from dehydration.”
Upon reading the FDA’s warning, my immediate reaction was, “Why the heck is this product still on the market?” The agency did say it is continuing to investigate MMS and “may pursue civil or criminal enforcement actions as appropriate to protect the public from this potentially dangerous product,” but I’m wondering what will be required to push the agency to take more forceful action.
I posed that question to supplement and food attorney Marc Ullman, who turned out to be equally perplexed by this situation. “I have no idea why this product is still on the market,” Ullman told me via e-mail. “To my knowledge, the long history of outrageous claims associated with [MMS] is well documented.” According to Ullman, the last product posing such potential health risks was GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), a precursor to GBL (gamma buterol lactone), a.k.a. “date rape drug.”
“FDA did bring criminal charges against some distributors in that instance,” Ullman said. “If the allegations here are correct, I think that similar action would be warranted. In fact, I believe that criminal charges could easily be justified based on the kind of claims associated with MMS alone.”
What do you think should happen with MMS? Should responsible industry take steps to get involved and protect itself from products such as MMS?
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