Summary: Secretin is a
controversial enzyme therapy of AUTISM with some anecdotal reports of
unexpected success but no standard well-controlled clinical trial proof of
efficacy as yet. We include some reports and opinions on this subject. Even
today, it remains controversial. Last
updated January 21, 2007
SECRETIN IN CP: HOPES
Secretin is an enzyme, administered intravenously, that is claimed to confer
some benefits in selected cases of autism.
A study on Secretin was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine of
December 1999, one of the most respected medical journals in the world.
The study compared the effect of administration of Secretin to that of placebo
(false /inert drug in identical looking formulation, to avoid bias) in patients
The study did not find any benefit in using the drug in Autism since it worked
no better than a placebo in its first two rigorous studies, The authors suggest
that there seems to be a significant placebo effect, but no difference between
Secretin and placebo.
The authors suggest that the agent, Secretin should not be recommended to treat
autism until the results of other ongoing studies are known, even though some
children who participated in the study, did benefit from all the intensive care
given to all.
Intravenous doses of Secretin - a digestive enzyme that costs $180 per
vial - are used since anecdotal reports claimed benefit from the drug. Such
reports prompted these studies where the drug is given to some children and the
benefits compared to another group of children who are given a similar inert
substance. Both groups are evenly matched in all parameters and given the same
intensive care. Both batches of drug are packed in similar way and code marked.
The identity of the drug is kept a secret and put in a sealed envelope, to be
opened after the trial is over. Thus, neither the doctor actually handling the
child and administering the drug knows the identity of the drug, nor does the
Two studies are now published: (a) New England Journal of Medicine, December
1999, and (b) Medscape Internet site in October 1999 (by Dr.Edwin Cook, Univ. of
Chicago). Neither found any benefit from Secretin.
The only benefit, seen in both groups (active drug and placebo) was due to the
attention from doctors, parents and others. The actual benefits thus seemed to
come only from long, painstaking work with behaviour or speech problems.
The other side of the coin for Secretin
Secretin is advocated by its patent holders: Bernard Rimland, Head of the Autism
Research Institute in San Diego, and Victoria Beck, who first called attention
to the enzyme after her son's improvement. She has a 43-year-old autistic son,
who is claimed to have improved significantly with Secretin.
This section is based on NEJM, Medscape and
reports from The Associated Press.
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