I just started receiving a bunch of Google referral hits from readers searching for a story about the US Federal Trade Commission apparently taking regulatory action against a church that is selling supplements claimed to exhibit anti-cancer activities.
The article in question, “Tyrannical FTC Threatens Christian Church with Imprisonment for Selling Dietary Supplements,” was written by a gentleman named Mike Adams, an editor at NaturalNews.com. I’m not exactly certain at this point what the specific FTC actions are today since the article is rife with rantings and rhetoric:
The FTC has unleashed a new assault against both dietary supplements and religious freedoms by targeting a Christian church for termination. Through exclusive interviews and conversations with health freedom attorney Jim Turner (http://www.naturalnews.com/Index-Podcas…), NaturalNews has learned that the church Daniel Chapter One (www.DanielChapterOne.com) has been targeted by the FTC for destruction.
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is largely responsible for regulating foods, drugs, and medical devices for safety and approved claims, the FTC has often stepped in on dietary supplement sales where claims being made might be considered fraudulent, deceptive, or otherwise untrue.
The FTC action on Daniel Chapter One cited today was actually released back on 18 September 2008 as part of 11 actions against companies marketing bogus cancer “cures”:
Daniel Chapter One – This company markets several herbal formulations as well as shark cartilage. According to the complaint, in addition to making deceptive and false claims that these products effectively prevent, treat, and cure cancer, the respondents also claim that one of their herbal formulations mitigates the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In addition to the FTC action announced today, this company received a warning letter from FDA.
Based on this information, it appears that the FTC action has basis in fact and law. The 7Herb Formula is currently marketed for a “suggested donation” of $72 USD and is supported, like many of such remedies, by anecdotes and testimonials.
All of the usual circumstantial wording is there that stretches a wee bit of science into a major claim the drug companies don’t want you to know. For example, one herb, sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), is a well-known source of anthracenosides, a class of quinones most similar to the natural product anticancer drug, mitoxantrone. These compounds can kill cancer cells grown in plastic dishes if present at a high enough concentration. However, it is highly unlikely that the product does contains enough of the compounds necessary for a biological effect and, even if it did, the compounds are not bioavailable when taken orally (hence, why mitoxantrone must be injected).
However, the NaturalNews.com article makes the claim that the FTC is on a “campaign of regulatory terrorism against the dietary supplement industry,” and concludes that, “the FTC is destroying America’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion and dietary supplements industry.”
Moreover, the reader is urged to contact the FTC:
“Be sure to include a copy of this article, just to remind ‘em that you’re informed. They’ll attack this article, of course, claiming it’s “anti-FTC propaganda.” That’s exactly what Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot said, too. The rebels that fought tyranny in those historical scenarios were quickly labeled terrorists and imprisoned or just outright shot.”
As Bugs Bunny would say, “This is rich.” As Dave Barry would say, “I am not making this up.”
I received a history medal at high school graduation so I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that the FTC was established around the time of the Colorado coal mine wars (1913-1914) as an anti-trust agency, or trust-buster. The agency has grown to target all aspects of unfair or deceptive marketing practices across a wide variety of industries. Hence, my guess is that the FTC is acting in this case to protect the American consumer from deceptive marketing of a product that is claimed to, but cannot, cure cancer.
True, but nowhere near as glamorous and agitating as a campaign of regulatory terrorism that strikes at the heart of everything America holds dear.