Parents who gave their children bleach in the belief that it could cure them of autism are being questioned by gardaí.
A number of people who have children with autism have been interviewed by detectives as part of a joint investigation by gardaí and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) into the use of a controversial treatment being promoted in Ireland by an international cult.
The substance, known as Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), is an industrial-strength bleach which its advocates claim acts as a miracle cure for a number of medical conditions, including autism, asthma, Aids, malaria and ebola.
Fiona O’Leary, an Irish woman who has single-handedly mounted a campaign against a group led by Jim Humble — a former Scientologist and self-styled archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing — said there is need for urgent legislation in Ireland to deter parents from subjecting their children to treatment with MMS.
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A dentist and two nurses based in the west of Ireland are among a group of individuals who have also been questioned by gardaí about the sale of the product.
Ms O’Leary believes it is unlikely that any parents will face criminal prosecution as a result of the Garda investigation, but says some sanction needs to be put in place to prevent vulnerable children being forced to take bleach, either orally or as an enema.
“We really need laws to ban such dangerous and unlicensed treatments, as there are too many loopholes to prevent people who want MMS from getting the materials to make it themselves,” said Ms O’Leary, a mother of two autistic children.
“People are playing Russia roulette with their kids who are being used as guinea pigs for experimentation and there’s no legislation to stop this.”
The need for such legislation, argues Ms O’Leary, is because MMS promoters have been able to circumvent regulations governing the sale and supply of medicines by describing the product, whose constituent ingredients are perfectly legal, as a water purifier.
The mother of five, who lives in West Cork, said she was shocked by the results of laboratory tests on MMS conducted as part of an RTÉ PrimeTime documentary broadcast last week. They showed the main ingredient of MMS — sodium chlorite — had concentrations up to 520 times over the daily limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The HPRA, previously known as the Irish Medicines Board, has acknowledged that the promoters of MMS have become more secretive about distributing the product as a result of adverse publicity, claiming they had turned to “underground and unorthodox” methods to evade the law.
It confirmed there are ongoing investigations into the alleged supply of MMS, which has involved searches at a number of premises and the seizure of equipment over the past year.
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