Dietary Supplements Advertised as Cancer Drugs

August 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm (Bad Science, Remedies, Supplements) (, , , )

On the Bad Science Forum recently, Deano posted a link to a business selling a dietary supplement Poly MVA (based on a chemotherapeutic Lipoic Acid-Palladium complex) as a cancer drug. I had a quick look at the FDA’s pages on advertising dietary supplements and promoting them to cancer sufferers seemed like a breach of the regulations to me. By law, manufacturers may make three types of claims for their dietary supplement products: health claims, structure/function claims, and nutrient content claims. Health claims describe a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient, and reducing risk of a disease or health-related condition. The PolyMVA marketing seems to go beyond this. I contacted the FDA and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to check with them. Here’s [approximately, rather than verbatim] what I wrote to the two organisations:

Someone claiming to be based in San Diego is using the internet to advertise a dietary supplement based on a chemotherapeutic [LAPd – Lipoic Acid-Palladium Complex], here: and on social networking sites such as myspace:

There appears to be no study on the NIH’s Pubmed site that relates to Poly MVA and cancer [albeit there is some for LAPd], but this product is being sold as a cancer drug and there are claims that there is clinical evidence for it: “Poly-MVA, a dietary supplement that has been shown to be very effective in clinical studies conducted by a renowned board-certified oncologist, Dr. James Forsythe” and that it is “the first dietary supplement to be cleared by the FDA for use in a cancer study”.

I checked the FDA’s page on dietary supplement claims and it appears that the advertising for this product may not comply. I’m not sure if this is a matter for the FDA or the FTC, so intend to contact both organisations.

FDA page on health claims: here, list of approved claims: here.

EDIT 7/7/09: Text from comment on another post copied here:

jdc, I’ve attempted to post the following comment to your PolyMVA thread, but it keeps saying “discarded”. I hope you will move this there:

Thank you for writing about this PolyMVA ripoff. I have had my own run-in with these PolyMVA snake oil pushers here:

Like you, I have also reported them to the FDA. Hopefully, the wrath of the government will eventually befall them all in the guise of an early-morning FBI raid.


  1. dvnutrix said,

    jdc, you may be interested in this story: Pink Patch Ads Pulled on AOL and Facebook.

    The Pink Patch: Irresponsible Advertising on Facebook.

    Sometimes, for no particularly good reason, TPTB do listen (because it can’t just have been because a celebrity got involved…).

  2. jdc325 said,

    Cheers dvnutrix – I’ve sent the myspace team a message pointing them to the page.

  3. jdc325 said,

    Good news: the two pages I complained about are gone – both the myspace and the polymva dot com page!

    Bad news: the is selling this product as “Natural anti-Cancer Supplement – Best Choice for anti-Cancer” [and there’s more]

    EDIT: I’ve just reported Only Nature’s Finest to the FDA.

  4. dvnutrix said,

    Well done!

    Maybe there is sometimes more to this listening stuff than we think.

  5. jdc325 said,

    Thanks dvnutrix,

    I had a quick look around the Only Nature’s Finest site and, depressingly, it appears they are not just flogging dodgy cancer drugs but are AIDS sCAMmers too.

    “If HIV-1 causes AIDS by depressing body selenium, cysteine, glutamine and tryptophan then the way to treat this disorder is obviously diets enriched in these nutrients” Ugh.

    They also have a page selling goji berries and CoQ10 for “heart attacks” and their disclaimer has to be seen to be believed…

  6. Norbury said,

    Don’t know how you do trackbacks, but I’ve linked to this post in my blog

  7. jdc325 said,

    I’ve only had this blog eleven-and-a-half months – I haven’t figured out trackbacks either!

    Nice post though Norbury.

  8. Bookmarks about Drugs said,

    […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by kiralynn123 on 2008-12-26 Dietary Supplements Advertised as Cancer Drugs – […]

  9. Christina Crowell said,

    I am 5’10 male my weight is 240 I really want to lose weight get to 190 is my goal. I go to the gym 5 times a week and I been eating healthy but now i want to try a diet supplement to help me lose weight faster and build muscle at the same time what should I take?

    Makers| and wholesalersof dietary supplements now actively lace their formulas with prescription drugs or analogs fully aware of the dangers posed to consumers. People who run these operations knowingly adulterating their supplements are true criminals motivated by greed and a lack of conscience for the health risks to the consumer.}

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