In an effort to clamp down on a disturbing trend targeting cancer patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently sent warning letters to 14 companies ordering them to stop peddling fraudulent cure-all remedies — or else face possible criminal prosecution. The letters, detailed Tuesday on the agency’s website, addressed more than 65 products currently marketed and sold without FDA approval.
“Anyone who suffers from cancer, or knows someone who does, understands the fear and desperation that can set in,” Nicole Kornspan, a consumer safety officer at the FDA, said in a post on the agency’s website. “There can be a great temptation to jump at anything that appears to offer a chance for a cure.”
As a guide for consumers, the FDA warned against treatments marketed with the following phrases:
- Treats all forms of cancer
- Miraculously kills cancer cells and tumors
- Shrinks malignant tumors
- Selectively kills cancer cells
- More effective than chemotherapy
- Attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact
- Cures cancer
The FDA gave the companies — which have touted treatments like asparagus extract, ointments, oils, drops, topical creams for pets and exotic teas — 15 days to correct violations or come up with plans to rectify them. It is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to market and sell products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate or cure diseases without FDA approval.
“Increasingly, bogus remedies claiming to cure cancer in cats and dogs are showing up online,” Kornspan said in the post. “People who cannot afford to spend large sums at the animal hospital to treat cancer in their beloved dogs and cats are searching for less expensive remedies.”
In addition to avoiding the flagged products, the FDA encouraged consumers to report suspicious products to its MedWatch program.