Federal regulators issued a warning Monday urging people not to drink a chlorine dioxide solution that is often promoted online as a remedy for autism, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other conditions.
The products — known as Miracle Mineral Solution, MMS and Chlorine Dioxide Protocol among other monikers — have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can have life-threatening side effects, the department said in a news release.
“Ingesting these products is the same as drinking bleach,” said FDA acting commissioner Ned Sharpless, according to the release. “Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason.”
This is not the first time the department has issued such warnings.
In 2010, the FDA compared the solution to industrial bleach and described consumer injuries ranging from severe nausea and vomiting to low blood pressure caused by dehydration.
“Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away,” the department warned.
But an NBC News investigation published in June found that social media sites had amplified the claims of people who believe the solution is a miracle cure.
Poison control centers have managed more than 16,000 related cases over the last five years. Fifty of them were life threatening; in eight instances people died, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The products were first promoted 20 years ago as a remedy to nearly every ailment by a former Scientologist who later founded a church of “health and healing” called Genesis II.
A former real estate agent from Chicago, Kerri Rivera, later suggested the solution could cure autism.
Rivera claims to have sold tens of thousands of copies of a book she wrote promoting a “chlorine dioxide protocol” — though Amazon banned the title earlier this year. Amid public pressure, YouTube also deleted accounts that had thousands of subscribers that published videos with millions of views.
The NBC News investigation found that local authorities were hesitant to intervene in the case of a mother who routinely dosed her children with the solution and posted videos of the process online.
A spokesman for the Lenexa Police Department, in Kansas, said that officers closed the investigation after determining that chlorine dioxide isn’t “a super dangerous poison.”