Amazon has removed books offering parents fraudulent "autism cures" for their children, including treatments amounting to forcing children to drink bleach.
The withdrawals follow reports of the web giant selling multiple books and unofficial treatments to readers which encourage nonscientific treatments and spread disinformation about vaccines.
Technology magazine Wired reported on Monday that the e-retail giant was selling books which encourage parents to treat their autistic children with abusive methods.
Among the treatments which the books suggested were ones involving chlorine dioxide, which is often fraudulently marketed as Miracle Mineral Supplement capable of curing a range of diseases from cancer to AIDS.
Two of the books that were listed on the site – Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism and Fight Autism and Win – have now been removed from Amazon.
However, multiple books featuring disinformation about autism and vaccinations – including How to End the Autism Epidemic: Revealing the Truth About Vaccines – remain on the site.
The company did not provide a statement to Sky News on the take-downs, nor explain whether it has a system to check whether medical disinformation is being sold, such as the book above.
To test whether any such systems to identify disinformation were in place, Wired created a fake listing titled How To Cure Autism: A Guide To Using Chlorine Dioxide To Cure Autism and found it was approved within two hours.
Amazon Kindle’s service automatically created a book cover offered which suggested that the treatment had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In 2010, the FDA actually warned that so-called Miracle Mineral Solution was an industrial bleach which could cause serious harms to health and recommended consumers stop using it immediately and throw it away.
The dangerous and false claims connecting vaccines to autism in children originate with a British-born former doctor called Andrew Wakefield.
Wakefield fabricated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in a now-retracted 1998 study published in the Lancet medical journal, and Wakefield has had his medical licence revoked.
This week, the Italian government banned unvaccinated children from attending school amid a small epidemic in measles cases.
Jane Harris of the UK’s National Autistic Society (NAS), said: Autism is lifelong, it is part of who people are. It’s simply wrong for anyone to claim dodgy and harmful therapies as a ‘cure’ or to repeat myths about autism and vaccines. Research has proved again and again that there is no link.
No responsible retailer should be giving a platform to people who promote incorrect information or dangerous products to vulnerable families.
Ms Harris, who is the director of external affairs and social change at NAS, added: There are around 700,000 autistic children and adults in the UK. Life for autistic people and families can be desperately difficult at times, especially just before and after receiving a diagnosis when so much is unclear.
We must do everything we can to protect people from charlatans and quacks. People need accurate and up-to-date information about autism so they know how to spot when something might be dodgy or dangerous.
It’s important to report charlatans to the authorities. And agencies must make use of their powers to stop the production, promotion, sale and use of dodgy products and therapies.
We must also make sure autistic people and families have accurate information about the support that can actually help – and this support must be available when and where it’s needed.
(c) Sky News 2019: Amazon removes books saying autistic children can be treated with bleach