FDA News Release P89-18
April 13, 1989
The Food and Drug Administration warned today that industrial strength hydrogen peroxide illegally promoted to treat AIDS and cancer has caused at least one death in Texas and several injuries requiring hospitalization.
The products are sold as “35 percent Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide” to be diluted and used in “Hyper-oxygenation Therapy” for AIDS, cancers and more than 60 other conditions. FDA said there is no proof that either the product or the therapy has any medicinal value.
Further, the agency said, this concentration—more than 10 times as strong as the 3 percent solution commonly used to disinfect minor cuts—is highly corrosive. FDA considers it dangerous even if it is handled according to the manufacturer’s directions.
“This concentration is not approved by FDA for any therapeutic purpose,” FDA Commissioner Frank E. Young, M.D., Ph.D., said. “Indeed, no one has come forward with any evidence this substance taken internally has any medical value. Buyers are being cheated and sUbjected to significant risks and family members are being injured.”
The liquid is purchased in bulk from chemical plants in Texas and Mexico and repackaged into smaller containers by distributors. Stored in home refrigerators according to the manufacturers instructions, the corrosive chemical has been mistaken for water and consumed.
FDA in February, while trying to halt the distribution of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide by a distributor operating in Brownsville, Texas, learned of two incidents that occurred last year. In August, a 4-year-old girl in Dennison, Texas, poured a drink for her two brothers from a quart bottle that she mistook for water. The resulting injuries required more than six months of medical care and cost thousands of dollars in expenses. Then in September, in Conroe, Texas, a mother poured what she thought was water from a bottle in her refrigerator for her two children and a neighbor’s child. Her children were severely injured and the neighbor’s child died after drinking the liquid.
The agency said the products—sometimes called “Biowater” and “H202″—are promoted as an “alternative medicine” by mail-order distributors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and Texas, and by some “health food” outlets. The concentrated liquid comes in pint, quart and gallon containers with ordinary screw caps or, in some cases, with child-resistant caps.
Literature usually distributed with the product explains how to dilute the concentrated liquid for such unproved or unnecessary uses as sprouting seeds, purifying meat, cleansing laundry, and treating acne, gum disease, athlete’s foot, colic, headache, varicose veins, AIDS and cancer.
Materials promoting the product often include printed pages resembling magazine articles along with alleged testimonials that blend various medical facts with fictitious claims and offer the view that hydrogen peroxide’s benefits are suppressed by the medical establishment and the government.
The promotion of hydrogen peroxide as a home remedy has continued and has reappeared despite efforts of FDA beginning in 1985 to get distributors of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide to stop making the illegal claims. FDA is not aware of any medical benefits from consuming hydrogen peroxide in any form; no information or applications have been submitted to the agency to support any drug claims for taking this chemical internally.
For further information: Mike Shaffer – (301) 443-3285 (Home)—(301) 831-9364