FDA Issues Warning Against Illegally Sold Cancer Treatments

The FDA issued 14 warning letters and 4 online adviseries to a number of companies selling products which claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate or cure cancer without FDA approval.

In the world of the Internet, consumers can purchase practically anything they wish for — except a surefire cure for cancer.

This week, the FDA issued 14 warning letters and 4 online advisories to companies that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate, or cure cancer. The letters cover over 65 products that were being sold—mostly on websites and social media—without FDA approval.

The illegally sold products cited in this latest round of warning letters include a variety of product types, such as pills, topical creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups, teas and diagnostics (such as thermography devices). They include products marketed for use by humans or pets that make illegal, unproven claims regarding preventing, reversing or curing cancer, killing/inhibiting cancer cells or tumors, or other similar anticancer claims.

“They [the products] have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety and efficacy, and can be dangerous to both people and pets,” the FDA said in a statement. The agency encourages healthcare professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions associated with these or similar products to the agency’s MedWatch program.

“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.

Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to market and/or sell products claiming to fight, cure or prevent cancer without first going through rigorous testing and approval by the FDA. However, these products continue to be offered online, adding to the growing list of products about which the FDA warns American consumers.

The FDA has requested responses from the 14 companies stating how the violations will be corrected. Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure, injunction and/or criminal prosecution.

“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,” stressed Stern. "Patients should consult a healthcare professional about proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”

For the list of companies receiving the warning letters, click here.