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Author Topic: Federal Trade Commission: action against 11 marketers of bogus cancer cures  (Read 663 times)


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Consumer Health Digest #09-03
January 15, 2009
Current # of subscribers: 11,687

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail
newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and
cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It
summarizes scientific reports; legislative
developments; enforcement actions; news reports;
Web site evaluations; recommended and
nonrecommended books; and other information
relevant to consumer protection and consumer


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Feds attack bogus cancer cures.

The Federal Trade Commission has taken action
against eleven marketers of bogus cancer cures.
[FTC sweep stops peddlers of cancer cures. FTC
news release,, Sept 15, 2008]
cases were resolved by settlements:

**Nu-Gen Nutrition, Inc., marketed cantron, an
electrolyte liquid, and apricot seeds containing
laetrile as treatments and cures for various
types of cancer.

**Westberry Enterprises, Inc., marketed an herbal
tea containing burdock root, sheep sorrel,
slippery elm bark, and Turkish rhubarb root;
melatonin; cat's claw; saltwater blue-green
algae; and a mixture of roots, leaves, and barks
from various plants.

**Jim Clark's All Natural Cancer Therapy marketed
laetrile, apricot seeds, digestive enzymes,
okra-pepsin-E3, and coral calcium.

**Bioque Technologies, Inc., marketed Serum GV,
an extract from the soursop or guanabana tropical
fruit tree with claims that it could prevent and
treat melanoma.

**Holly A. Bacon d/b/a Cleansing Time Pro,
claimed that its corrosive black salve was
effective against HIV, SARS, and Avian Flu as
well as melanoma.

**Premium-essiac-tea-4less claimed that its
essiac tea was effective against cancer, AIDS,
ulcers, hepatitis C; and many other diseases.

The FTC filed suit against five cases:

**Alexander Heckman d/b/a Omega Supply marketed
laetrile, hydrazine sulphate, and cloracesium,
which contains cesium chloride.

**Native Essence Herb Company marketed essiac
tea, chaparral, and maitake mushrooms extracts
with claims of effectiveness against cancers.

**Daniel Chapter One markets several herbal
formulations as well as shark cartilage.

**Gemtronics, Inc. markets "RAAX11," which is
made of chrysobalanus icaco, a derivative from a
tropical bush, and agaricus, a medicinal mushroom.

**Mary T. Spohn d/b/a Herbs for Cancer sold
Chinese herbal teas claimed to fight 16 different
cancers plus another tea for "cancers not on our

Action in the above cases began through an
Internet surf conducted in June 2007 by the FTC,
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and
Competition Bureau Canada. Following the surf,
the FTC sent warning letters via e-mail to 112
Web sites between August 2007 and January 2008.
Of these, nearly 30% either closed their sites or
removed the problematic cancer treatment claims.
The remainder were reviewed to determine whether
a law enforcement action was warranted or whether
they should be referred to the FDA or the
Competition Bureau. The FDA sent warning letters
to 23 U.S. companies and two foreign individuals.
The Competition Bureau sent warning letters to
nearly 100 Canadian companies, almost all of
which have adequately corrected their marketing


Desiccated (Armour) thyroid criticized.

Desiccated thyroid extract, made from dried
animal glands, was the most common form of
treatment for hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone
levels) before the individual thyroid hormones
(T3 and T4) were discovered and became
commercially available. During the 1960s,
science-based physicians stopped using it because
its potency can vary from batch to batch, which
would make it harder to optimize the patient's
thyroid hormone levels. Today, is is marketed as
Armour Thyroid® by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
a subsidiary of Forest Laboratories, Inc., of St.
Louis. Doctors who prescribe desiccated thyroid
typically diagnose "hypothyroidism" (underactive
thyroid gland) in people with normal thyroid
function. Many of these doctor base their
diagnosis on "low" temperature readings
determined by placing the thermometer under the
armpit. This is not a valid test of thyroid
function. Proper diagnosis requires blood tests
that measure thyroid hormone levels. The Forest
Pharmaceuticals Web site has a "Physician
Locator" database that contains about 960 names.
Because synthetic hormones are more reliable, the
prescription of desiccated thyroid should be
considered a sign of poor medical judgment.
[Barrett S. Desiccated thyroid: Be wary of
doctors who prescribe it. Quackwatch, Jan 13,
An index to regulatory actions related to its use
is posted at


Top infomercial scammer hit for $37 million penalty.

A federal judge has ordered Kevin Trudeau to pay
more than $37 million for violating a 2004
stipulated order by misrepresenting the content
of his book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't
Want You to Know About." [Judge orders Kevin
Trudeau to pay $37 million for false claims about
weight-loss book. FTC news release, Jan 15, 2009]
In August 2008, the judge had fined him $5
million (a conservative estimate of his royalties
from the book) and banned him for three years
from producing or publishing infomercials for
products in which he has an interest. The ruling
confirmed an earlier contempt finding, the second
such finding against Trudeau in the past four
years. Urged by both the FTC and Trudeau to
reconsider aspects of its August order, the Judge
raised the judgment to $37,616,161 (the amount
consumers paid in response to the deceptive
infomercials). After noting that "Mr. Trudeau has
proven himself incapable of respecting this
court's narrowly tailored injunctions," the judge
also revised the three-year ban to prohibit
Trudeau from disseminating or helping others to
disseminate any infomercial for any informational
publication in which he has an interest. Trudeau
is appealing to a higher court, but the judge
ruled that the order will remain in force during
the appeal process.


New book debunks AIDs denialism.

Springer Science & Business Media has published
Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience,
and Human Tragedy, a brilliant book about the
activities and effects of people who deny that
AIDS is caused by a virus, will be published next
month. The foreward is posted at
The book can be ordered at


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Health Fraud, see If you
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Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Board Chairman, Quackwatch, Inc.
Chatham Crossing, Suite 107/208
11312 U.S. 15 501 North
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

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Editor, Consumer Health Digest

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