Authorities act on fake disease claims

The US Federal Trade Commission has revealed details of law enforcement actions challenging what it says constitute deceptive advertising of bogus cancer cures by 11 companies.

The FTC charged the companies with making unsupported claims that their products cured or treated one or more types of cancer. In each case, the company was charged with violating the FTC Act, which bars deceptive claims. Some of its complaints allege that the companies also falsely touted clinical or scientific proof for their products.

"There is no credible scientific evidence that any of the products marketed by these companies can prevent, cure, or treat cancer of any kind," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Many of these products are scams, and let's face it, when you're battling cancer, the last thing you need is a scam."

Of the 11 complaints, six have been resolved by proposed settlements. These involve Nu-Gen Nutrition, Westberry Enterprises, Jim Clark's All Natural Cancer Therapy, Bioque Technologies, Holly A Bacon (trading as Cleansing Time Pro) and Premium-essiac-tea-4less.

The rest will be litigated: Alexander Heckman (trading as Omega Supply), Native Essence Herb Company, Daniel Chapter One, Gemtronics, Mary T Spohn (trading as Herbs for Cancer).

In all cases, the companies will be required by the FTC to notify consumers who purchased the products challenged in the complaints that there was little or no scientific evidence demonstrating the products' effectiveness for treating or curing cancer. They also must urge these customers to consult with their doctors about the products.

In addition, the companies will be prohibited from selling or disclosing their consumer lists to others. The products the companies marketed include essiac teas and other herbal mixtures, laetrile, black salve (a corrosive ointment) and mushroom extracts.

The latest cases announced began as a result of an internet surf conducted by the FTC, the US Food and Drug Administration and Competition Bureau Canada in June 2007.

Some of the companies involved in this round of action — as well as others — also received letters from the FDA warning them to cease making bogus disease-curing claims for their products.

Meanwhile, the FTC has also launched a new website about bogus cancer cures. The site — — tells consumers how to spot and report bogus claims they see online, and urges people with cancer to talk to their treatment team about any products they'd like to try.

The site features a video and includes a list of resources on cancer treatments from a variety of agencies within the federal government. Information is provided in English and Spanish.

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