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: http://www.polymvahealthclub.com/index1.html?lang=en-us&mid=zebra_400 and on social networking sites such as myspace: http://www.myspace.com/cancermedicine
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.
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.