On April 25, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out warning letters to 14 different American companies, which collectively are selling over 65 products for cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis, or a cure. None of these products has been approved by the FDA, which means that the claims made by the companies selling them are fraudulent. The companies play on the vulnerability of cancer victims looking for any hope in a treatment or cure. Part of the FDA’s role is to protect consumers from such medical fraud.
Violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and FDA Action
The FDA has found that the 14 companies in question to be in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This law requires that any products sold to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent an illness of any type must be proven to be safe and effective for any claims made. This cannot just be proof supplied by the company selling the product, but must be demonstrated through a process that allows the FDA to approve products for certain uses.
The products that are the subject of the warning letters include a variety of types, such as creams and lotions, pills, oils, teas, diagnostic devices, syrups, and ointments. Some of the unproven claims, which are illegal, include that these products can reverse or cure cancer, kill cancer cells, or inhibit tumor growth. The list of products includes those for humans as well as some for pets. The contacted companies received warning letters and are required to respond to the FDA with plans for correcting violations. Failure to do so could lead to legal action and even criminal prosecution.
The Danger of False Claims and Unapproved Medical Products
The FDA plays a very important role in protecting consumers, not just from false claims and fraud, but from products that could be dangerous and cause harm. The FDA not only requires that approved products be effective, but also that they are safe. Medical products that are unapproved could actually be unsafe and cause harm. For cancer patients, there is also the risk that these products do not do what they claim to do and that by turning to them the patient may not seek out actual, effective and appropriate treatment for cancer.
Companies Included in Current Warning
There are many fraudulent, so-called cancer treatments, cures, and other products, that were targeted as part of the most recent release of warning letters from the FDA. A total of more than 65 products were being illegally sold and marketed by just 14 companies:
- AIE Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Amazing Sour Sop, Inc.
- BioStar Technology International, LLC
- Caudill Seed & Warehouse Inc.
- Everything Herbs
- Hawk Dok Natural Salve, LLC
- Healing Within Products & Services, Inc.
- LifeVantage Corporation
- Nature’s Treasure, Inc.
- Oxygen Health Systems, LLC
- Sunstoe, Inc.
- The Vibrant Health Store, LLC
- The Vitamin C Foundation
Being Aware: Avoiding Potentially Fraudulent Products
The FDA takes the most reasonable steps possible to protect consumers, but it is also important for consumers to be aware and knowledgeable when using medical products. There are some particular red flags that may indicate a product marketed to cancer patients is fraudulent. For instance, if it claims to treat any type of cancer or to be more effective than chemotherapy, be wary. Other phrases a company may use on a fraudulent product’s labeling include that it cures cancer, that it shrinks malignant tumors, that it miraculously kills cancer cells, or that it attacks cancer cells, but not healthy cells.
If you or someone you know has relied on a purported cancer treatment or supplement, and you are not sure whether it is fraudulent or not, you can contact the FDA to find out or speak to your doctor. If you are living with cancer, it is important to rely on the advice and treatment guidance of your oncologist and to inform your medical team of any other medications or products you are suing.