Autism Biomedical Information Network

Questions to ask of the person proposing to treat your child with secretin

by Ronald J. Kallen, M.D.
Secretin is available only by prescription and must be administered by a physician who has a valid license to practice medicine (or osteopathic medicine) in the particular state that the treatment is given. As of February 1999, the retail cost of secretin is about $259 (Walgreen's). If the physician is a recipient of a research grant award to study the effects of secretin on a person with autism, there should be no charge for the cost of the hormone.


  1. Does the physician have a background of expertise on autism (usually a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist, or child psychiatrist)?

  2. Does the physician have specialty Board-certification in a child-health related discipline (pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry)?

  3. Is the physician a member of a professional society that reflects this expertise (examples: Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Section of Children with Disabilities or the Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics or the Section of Neurology of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Neurology, the Child Neurology Society, the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, etc.)?

  4. Is the physician part of an established autism-centered, multidisciplinary program that provides a full range of diagnostic and treatment services (including working with the schools)?

  5. Is the physician affiliated with a teaching hospital (a teaching hospital is one that has accredited postgraduate medical education programs, including residency training or fellowship programs in pediatrics, neurology, or child psychiatry)?

  6. Is the physician on the faculty (fulltime or part-time) of an academic medical center or one of its affiliated teaching hospitals?

  7. If the answer to the preceding question is affirmative, will the treatment be done on-site at a teaching hospital?

  8. If the answer to the preceding question is affirmative, has the proposed treatment with secretin been presented to the hospital's Instititutional Review Board and approved as a research protocol?

  9. If the treatment with secretin is not part of a research protocol, is this a "treatment only" program?

  10. Will the treatment be given at a non-teaching hospital or in a private office setting?

  11. Does the physician ask that an informed consent form be reviewed and signed before the treatment is done?

  12. Does the informed consent form provide a detailed explanation of the procedure, potential risks, and possible benefits?

  13. Does the informed consent form provide a clear description of the methods used to assess behavior before and after secretin administration?

  14. What are the qualifications of the person doing the behavioral assessment?

  15. If this is done under a "controlled trial" protocol, will the person doing the behavioral assessment have advance knowledge as to whether or not the child received secretin or placebo?

  16. What is the total cost of the treatment?

  17. How will the physician represent to your health insurance company that this experimental treatment is "medically necessary" and should be reimbursed?

  18. Does the physician have documented approval from his malpractice insurance carrier that intravenous administration of an experimental treatment is covered under his policy with the carrier?

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©1999, This page last updated on 2/25/99