One of my most popular (and unpopular) articles concerns the quack cancer remedy Neoplasene. This is one of a family of herbal derivatives called bloodroot, and it has never been shown to be a safe and effective therapy for cancer. Though there are some in vitro studies showing bloodroot derivatives kill cancer cells, so does bleach. This is not sufficient to make it a safe and effective medicine. There is also ample evidence that it can cause severe damage to patients.
In an example of the consilience of different forms of quackery, apparently the anti-vaccine organization with the Orwellian name of the Australian Vaccination Network has been promoting a bloodroot derivative known as “Black Salve” as a cancer therapy. And in an example of an unusual, and much welcome, demonstration of reason and backbone by a government regulatory authority, they have been told to stop by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. What’s important about this is that the TGA is definitively informing the public that there is no reliable evidence these bloodroot remedies are safe and effective and that it is a form of fraud to claim that they are.
Here are some examples of the refreshing language in the TGA decision:
Black Salve Doesn’t Work
The Advertiser was not able to produce valid supporting evidence in relation to their claims, nor was there any referenced or highlighted medical evidence in the advertisement to support the representations. The advertisement promoted ‘black salve’ as a ‘safe, effective, natural remedy…used for over 2,000 years to treat skin cancers and other cancerous conditions, leading to a total remission of the disease.‘ The Delegate considered that, based on these statements, consumers would be entitled to expect that ‘black salve’ will cure them of cancer when, in fact, there is no credible, reliable clinical or scientific evidence to demonstrate that the product is effective in the treatment of any cancer. The Delegate found the advertisement was unverified, was not correct and raised unrealistic and unwarranted expectations of product effectiveness
Black Salve Is Not a Substitute for Real Medicine
The Delegate considered that statements made in the advertisement could lead to consumers inappropriately relying on ‘black salve’ to treat skin cancer to the exclusion of clinically proven conventional medicine and that the suggestion that ‘black salve’ will ‘help people cure their own cancers‘ may lead to self-diagnosis and a failure to seek out proper medical attention for a potentially fatal disease. The Delegate found the advertisement was likely to lead to inappropriate treatment of a potentially serious disease and was misleading
You Shouldn’t Sell Snake Oil By Making People Fear Real Medicine
The advertisement used language that, in the Delegate’s view, would bring about fear or distress by making people fearful of the consequences if they did not use ‘black salve’ or, alternatively, if they relied on conventional medicine for treatment.
Black Salve is Dangerous
The advertisement promoted ‘black salve’ as a ‘safe, effective, natural remedy‘ and that it was ‘time-tested‘. The advertisement does not mention that ‘black salve’ can cause harm or has any side effects, nor did it advise the consumer that ‘black salve’ can burn the skin (which may require medical attention) and can cause permanent scarring…misdiagnosis by a consumer would cause greater harm to themselves and that by not seeking appropriate medical help, incorrect application of “black salve” could cause extensive, irreparable damage to their skin.
Despite some pro forma caveats, Neoplasene is sold with essentially the same kind of unsupported claims exaggerating the evidence for its own safety and efficacy. Would be nice to see this sort of warning on site selling other bloodroot derivatives?
An advertisement promoting illegal therapeutic goods under the name “Black Salve”, which we published on this website, should not have been published. In publishing the advertisement, we misled and abused the trust of consumers
In the advertisement we unlawfully made claims that Black Salve is safe, and that it can be used as an effective treatment for cancers including skin cancer. We also claimed that cancer medicines are harmful and cause cancer, and are ineffectual
A complaint about the advertisement was recently upheld by the Complaints Resolution Panel. We provided no evidence whatsoever to support the claims we made, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, and unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (Code).
The delegate of the Secretary for the purposes of regulation 9 of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 also found that the claims and representation in the advertisement were unlawful, inaccurate and misleading in breach of the Code.
The attention of consumers is directed to the safety information from the Therapeutic Goods Administration at: Black salve, red salve and cansema on the TGA website.