Last week the Federal Trade Commission disclosed actions it had taken against several companies that promoted online cancer cures.
The actions were the result of a project started last year to identify websites making unsubstantiated cure claims."We found all of these claims to be nothing short of breathtaking, and not in a good way," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
She announced law enforcement actions against 11 companies. Six already had reached settlements with the agency; the rest will be litigated.
Eleven sites is a pittance considering the number of online cancer cure claims that can be readily found.Putting the words "cancer," "cure" and "miracle" in a Google search resulted not only in hundreds of thousands of hits (some of which were about legitimate scientific procedures), but also a list of sponsored links paid for by companies that wanted their supposed cures on the first page of results.
There was the "Miracle Water for Cancer" website, advertising a treated water that allegedly could curb the disease, plus also aid in weight loss and slow down the aging process.
There was also a site offering a miracle cure "the drug companies hope you never find out" that supposedly is also a vitamin that "will virtually eliminate the chance of getting cancer."
Parnes acknowledged that there was no lack of sites that "sell snake oil to consumers," as she put it.
The project originally identified 112 websites making non-medical cancer-cure claims. They each were sent warning letters "telling them they must have adequate substantiation for any health claims they make about their products," Parnes said. Within two months, about 30% of these sites had closed down or removed unsubstantiated claims, she said.
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