April 25, 2017—Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted several warning letters addressed to 14 U.S.-based companies found to be illegally marketing, selling, and distributing fraudulent cancer treatment. Over 65 specific products were found to claim to prevent, diagnose, or cure various types of cancer. These products are marketed and sold without receiving FDA approval. They are marketed most commonly on websites and social media platforms, directly to individual consumers.
“Consumers should not use these or similar unproven products because they may be unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate and potentially life-saving cancer diagnosis or treatment,” said Douglas W. Stearn, director of the Office of Enforcement and Import Operations in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs in a press release.
The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) makes it illegal to market and sell products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate, or cure diseases without first demonstrating to the FDA that they are safe and effective for their labeled uses.
The products cited in the warning letters include pills, creams, ointments, oils, and diagnostics devices, among others. Cited products made unproven claims regarding preventing, or curing cancer; killing/inhibiting cancer cells and tumors; or similarly explosive anti-cancer claims.
The FDA continues to monitor companies promoting and selling unproven treatments to reduce potential dangers to consumers and to educate about associated risks.
The FDA encourages health care professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions associated with these or similar products to the agency’s MedWatch program.
As a part of continued competency, it is important for practitioners to be aware of the dangers of illegal drugs and how best to warn their patients to avoid them. “We encourage people to remain vigilant whether online or in a store, and avoid purchasing products marketed to treat cancer without any proof they will work. Patients should consult a health care professional about proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” said Stearn.