(NaturalNews) The FDA has sent letters to 25 companies, threatening them with disciplinary action if they do not stop claiming that their herbal products can prevent or cure cancer.
The agency identified a total of 125 "tablets, teas, tonics, black salves and creams" that made prohibited claims, including "shrinks malignant tumors;" "treats all forms of cancer;" "target[s] cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone;" "avoid painful surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other conventional treatments;" "80 percent more effective than the world's number one cancer drug;" "skin cancers disappear;" and "causes cancer cells to commit suicide."
"These claims are supplemented by use of the word 'cancer' in most of your product names, as well as in the URL address for your Web site," the FDA's letter to one company read. "Furthermore, the metatags used to bring consumers to your Web site include 'cancer,' 'herbs for cancer' and 'fight-cancer.'"
"FDA expects prompt and complete corrective action," said Office of Enforcement Director David Elder. "Firms that don't heed the warnings that we've delivered and other firms marketing similar unapproved products may face further regulatory action."
Potential sanctions include injunctions, fines and product seizures.
The FDA expressed particular concern over the marketing of such herbal cures on the Internet, which is much more difficult to regulate. It is easy for companies to shut down one Web site and start up another, while at the same time it is difficult for authorities to figure out exactly who owns and operates a given site.
"Although promotions of bogus cancer 'cures' have always been a problem, the Internet has provided a mechanism for them to flourish," said FDA regulatory chief Margaret Glavin.
The American Herbal Products Association responded by saying that while it is certainly illegal to make unapproved medical claims, the products in question are not harmful.
The FDA has not received any consumer complaints or negative side effect reports from the targeted products.