Looking Out for Bogus Cancer Cures

Meantime, Parnes said today that "selling snake oil" to consumers has been practiced for a long time. Now, false promises that are not scientifically proved litter the Web sites of companies selling the products, the FTC said Thursday.

For instance, one company, Cleansing Time Pro, claimed that "people with inoperable cancers sent home to die" have used the product with "astonishing results."

Another company, Bioque, claimed that, "the medical profession has recognized Serum GV as the only available and effective topical treatment for skin cancer."

Parnes said that of the companies the FTC already settled with, the smallest sold about $9,000 worth of products with false claims and the largest sold about $800,000 worth of those products. She added that restitution for deceptive advertising ranged from $9,000 to $250,000.

"This case is about truth in advertising," she said. "The companies that have settled with us cannot make the claims that we challenged, and if they continue to make these claims, they'll hear from the FTC."

The latest crackdown is part of a larger effort to curb deceptive advertising. The FTC said it initially sent warning letters to 112 Web sites. When the commission followed up a few months later, about 30 percent of them had closed their sites or eliminated the claims they made in selling their products.

The FTC said it reviewed the remaining sites, referring some of them to the FDA and others to other countries where necessary.

Of the companies the FTC has not yet settled with, "Some of them have taken their Web sites down and changed their sites and some of them haven't," Parnes said.

The six companies that have settled are required to send letters to the people who bought their prodcuts, Parnes said, adding that four of them will take consumer redress.

Spohn, meantime, said she will battle the lawsuit.

"I'm not against chemo and radiation," she said. "I just don't think that should be our only choice."

"If we lose this, then we have lost a major battle, and our only recourse will be to take drug-based modalities in treating any kind of disease. They will literally take our right away to buy a vitamin out of the store," she said.

To prevent consumers from being duped online, the Federal Trade Commission also launched a public education campaign Thursday, and posted a YouTube video reminding people to talk to their doctors rather than trust the "cures" advertised online.

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