By Greg Cima
Fourteen companies are accused of making fraudulent claims their creams, supplements, teas, or oils could help treat or prevent cancer.
One of them, Nature’s Treasures of Glendale, California, is accused of claiming its topical antioxidant cream can help people and pets suffering from cancer, liver problems, arthritis, kidney disease, and inflammation.
In April, Food and Drug Administration authorities ordered that the companies stop making unproven claims about their products or else the agency could respond by seizing products, seeking injunctions, or prosecuting those responsible. Letters sent to some of the companies also warned against continued misuse of diagnostic tools.
In addition to the cancer-related claims were claims that products could “inactivate” HIV, lower cholesterol, eliminate arthritis-related pain, kill pathogens, cure impotence, protect against ultraviolet radiation, and cure dysentery, among a variety of others.
|||These are some of the products sold with false cancer treatment claims, according to FDA authorities. OxiCell (second from left) was marketed for use in people and pets. (Courtesy of FDA)|||
The FDA’s April 17 letter to Nature’s Treasures indicates the company was selling at least seven products through false medical claims—including the OxiCell cream the company is accused of claiming had cancer-fighting properties in humans and pets—as well as marketing an unapproved telethermographic system as a method of breast cancer detection. The FDA has cleared telethermographic systems only as adjuncts to other clinical diagnostic procedures, the letter states.
A sales page for OxiCell was removed from Nature’s Treasures’ website by April 25, when FDA officials publicized the warnings, but a version cached by Google April 19 indicates the company had been selling the skin cream at $40 per 1.6 ounce bottle with claims it “protects and preserves brain, liver, immune function, cellular, muscle & energy production.” The company also appears to have claimed the product protected mitochondria and restored antioxidant levels exhausted by influences ranging from cigarette smoke to exercise.
None of the other companies was accused of selling products as animal drugs, but the FDA letter to one, Caudill Seed & Warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, states that one of the sites Caudill uses to market its broccoli seed–based supplement includes claims that substances in broccoli sprouts “protect animals against chemically induced cancer.”
Donald D. Ashley, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Douglas Stearn, director of the Office of Enforcement and Import Operations in the FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs, co-authored an FDA column that describes sellers of fraudulent cancer products as people who exploit fears to peddle untested and possibly dangerous products. Their column was posted in the FDA Voice, the agency’s blog.
“These companies used slick ads, videos, and other sophisticated marketing techniques, including testimonials about miraculous outcomes,” the column states. “Often a single product was promoted as a treatment or cure for multiple diseases in humans and animals.
“Hoping to skirt the law on a technicality, some sellers made false claims and then in small print provided a disclaimer that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
The column also alleges these companies change the names of their products, companies, and websites in efforts to escape FDA enforcement. Still, the FDA has issued more than 90 warning letters over the past 10 years to companies marketing fraudulent cancer products, they wrote.