On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to 14 companies that were selling fraudulently marketed products claiming to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure cancer. In total, the companies produced more than 65 products that have been sold in the United States without FDA approval. According to the FDA, most of the products were marketed and sold in online outlets, including social media and through company websites.
“As part of the FDA’s effort to protect consumers from cancer health fraud, the FDA has issued more than 90 warning letters in the past 10 years to companies marketing hundreds of fraudulent products making cancer claims on websites, social media, and in stores,” ONS member Deborah Miller, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, cancer patient liaison at the FDA, said.
Miller noted that the letters are effective in curbing the sales of unapproved cancer treatments, but some companies look for loopholes. “Although many of these companies have stopped selling the products or making fraudulent claims,” Miller said, “numerous unsafe and unapproved products continue to be sold directly to consumers due in part to the ease with which companies can move their marketing operations to new websites.”
The treatments named by the FDA include—but are not limited to—the following:
- Sour Sop Capsules
- Sour Sop Leaves
For a full list of unapproved drugs and treatments, visit the FDA’s webpage for illegally sold cancer treatments.
Join the Fight Against Illegally Sold Cancer Treatments
Because oncology nurses have consistent, direct access to patients, they can help their patients understand if treatments are unapproved by the FDA. Whether it’s at the bedside, chairside, or anywhere else, it’s important for nurses to vigilantly monitor whether their patients begin taking or consider taking any unapproved cancer drugs.
Oncology nurses should inform patients about the red flags associated with these products. Patients and providers should be vigilant for any products that claim to treat all forms of cancer, miraculously kill cancer cells and tumors, selectively kill cancer cells, claim to be more efficient than chemotherapy, and ultimately cure cancer.
Medical professionals can report adverse reactions associated to unapproved treatments through the FDA’s MedWatch program.