The US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, announced late last week that it had enlisted the help of US Marshals in the raid and seizure of a company selling illegal cancer remedies. Agents say that they snatched up 1600 containers covering 3 different products:
- A product called Chickweed Healing Salve, which contains comfrey and is marketed as a skin cancer remedy,
- A salve marketed as To-Mor-Gone, which claims to cure cancer with black salve and
- A product called R.E.P., which promises to cure sinus infections.
The agency says that its action was prompted by a consumer complaint. The customer apparently found the product's marketing deceptive. Another customer--this one a skin cancer patient--reportedly used the Chickweed Healing salve on a tumor on her leg but found that the salve made her problem worse and required medical intervention.
As far as I can tell from the FDA's press release (which doesn't go into many details) there have been no reports of any injuries from the other 2 products. It's important to note, though, that the To-Mor-Gone salve apparently contains bloodroot. Bloodroot, or Sanguinaria canadensis, is most often made into caustic salves that are used to "burn" or "eat" away moles, warts and small tumors. The herb can be highly toxic and severely disfigure people who use products made with it.
The R.E.P. product reportedly had no ingredient list on its label. Agents did not speculate about what, if any, herbal ingredient it might contain.
So far I've been unable to get my hands on a copy of the actual seizure order but the FDA does say that it inspected the company, Notion-n-Things, back in January. At some point the products were placed under an embargo order which held until the seizure order was signed on March 27th.
I can't be absolutely sure, of course, until I see the actual paperwork filed by the feds but it looks as though these products were distributed nationwide. It took me only a few minutes of searching to find several "natural" and "Amish" websites still offering products with these names and fitting these descriptions for sale in New York and Indiana and at web-based "stores" like eBay.
The FDA, of course, says that all the products it seized from Notions-n-Things are unapproved drugs that could cause serious harm to users. Claims made about their anti-cancer and anti-tumor actions are "unsubstantiated", says the agency, and against the law.
I have been unable to get any information on the people behind Notions-n-Things. (Local media is referring to them as "Amish" but not identifying them by name.) I have also been unable to determine who, exactly, manufactured the seized remedies.