The Food and Drug Administration of United States has issued the warning letters to 14 companies because they were unlawfully selling the products saying that it could prevent, diagnose, treat or kill the cancer cells including breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer along with leukemia. Products that are sold with claims to treat cancer without any proof should not be purchased.
The agency is also advising patients and consumers to be wary of any unproven treatments, and to speak with their doctors about receiving proper treatment and care.
"I think the biggest red flag would be that any product that hasn't undergone FDA review is making a claim that it can treat or cure cancer", Humbert said.
The companies, FDA says, have 15 days to respond with plans to address the violations or face possible criminal prosecution, including up to a year in federal prison and fine of $100,000 or twice the companies' gains on the fraudulent products.
FDA revealed it has sent more than 90 warning letters in the past decade to companies marketing hundreds of fraudulent products that made cancer claims on websites, social media and in stores. Absent FDA approval or clearance for safety, they could also contain risky ingredients.
Steven Shapiro, an attorney in NY who has more than 27 years of experience in food and drug regulatory matters, said the statement in the product description is analogous to a testimonial on a website that a product cured cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration says these products, mostly sold on websites and social media, can be harmful, waste money and result in people not getting approved, effective treatments. The 14 companies cited in today's warning did not get approval for their products before making their claims. "It's a small segment of the industry [that] is selling illegal products marketed as dietary supplements", she said.
"The overarching point is that these products are untested, and some of the ingredients may present direct risk to the consumer's health or interact with any medications they might be taking", Humbert said.
Nicole Kornspan, a consumer safety officer at the FDA, said in a written statement that "Anyone who suffers from cancer, or knows someone who does, understands the fear and desperation that can set in". Consumers are recommended to not use these products or similar unsafe products. "There could be a great temptation to jump at anything that appears to offer a chance for a cure".