FDA issues warning letters over ‘bogus cancer cures’

14 companies accused of selling untested products
FDA issues warning letters over ‘bogus cancer cures’

The FDA has sent warning letters to 14 companies they say are peddling bogus cancer cures.

The regulatory agency says the companies are selling untested and potentially dangerous products. They allege the bogus products falsely claim to diagnose, treat or cure cancer, a violation of federal law.

Because a cancer diagnosis often brings with it a sense of desperation, the FDA says the companies are preying on those fears.

“Every day in clinic, someone wants to know about something that a friend printed out off of the internet or they found themselves, and it is incumbent on us as physicians to look at each of these things and say, that’s probably not real,” said Dr. Sam Lubner, an oncologist with UW’s Carbone Cancer Center.

The 14 companies have 15 business days to respond to the FDA with a plan to come into compliance with the law. If they do not, the FDA has the authority to take further action, including criminal prosecution, product seizure and injunctions.

Lubner said he has patients for whom the bogus cancer cures have caused harm.

“I’ve seen patients who have been indirectly harmed in the sense that, we had a chance to give them effective therapies, but because they made different choices, their cancer progressed in ways that maybe we could have slowed down or prevented,” Lubner said.

This is not the first time the FDA has issued warning letters over bogus claims of cancer cures. In the last 10 years’ it has issued more than 90 warning letters to companies marketing fraudulent cancer products.

The best advice for cancer patients considering treatments that might seem too good to be true is to consult with their physician.

“It is very helpful, in my mind, to have a direct interface with your doctor and say, ‘what do you think of this?’ Now we have the backing of the FDA to say, this won’t work,” Lubner said.

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