Neoplasene-The Latest Head of the Escharotic Hydra

A reader recently drew my attention to a form of CAM that is particularly dangerous and irresponsible but that like the mythological Hydra manages to raise its ugly head again and again despite efforts to kill it. Its latest incarnation in the veterinary field is as Neoplasene, yet another example of how CAM can achieve success through marketing unsupported by any evidence of real benefit.

According to the marketing materials, the ingredient in Neoplasene is “one of the prominent candidates deserving of the wonder drug designation.”(1) Pretty exciting, no? The promoters go on to follow the well-traveled road of CAM marketing, explaining why scientific medicine has missed the obvious truth, and only the iconoclastic promoters of the “wonder drug” can see it. “[Pathologists] clearly have not made reliable sense out of biopsy analysis…they just aren’t up to the task of reliable diagnostics.”(1) Of course, that doesn’t really matter since “this author…believes that inordinate attention is paid to diagnostics because, until now, little could be done to eliminate neoplastic disease so instead of treatment mainstream protocol has been to study the symptoms a lot and treat the disease a little.”

Oh, instead of studying the disease, we should be treating it!!! Gosh, how could we have been so blind? Oh, maybe because of “the barriers to the development and use of really effective cure oriented chemical treatment of neoplasm which are intertwined with political, economic and regulatory realities.”(1) See where this is going? “Cancer treatment and research are big business. Tremendous resources of facilities, personnel and funding are allocated to address education, equipment, real estate, personnel and patented designer drugs. Big organizations have momentum; they do not change direction easily or quickly…It has been viewed by drug developers that patentability may not be attained on some pharmaceuticals.”(1) So we in mainstream haven’t seen that “these alkaloids clearly attack neoplasm preferentially” and “this fact has been known and largely ignored by pharmaceutical researchers for nearly two hundred years” because of institutional inertia and the fear that we won’t make back the cost of developing such a miraculous cancer cure.

Such clichés seem as obviously ridiculous and unbelievable as the fake moon landing sort, yet they are just as persistent, and even more dangerous in that they drive people away from real medicine and into the arms of CAM.

The Neoplasene marketing materials go on in some detail, using testimonials and sloppy semi-scientific verbiage to clearly claim that the product treats, and even cures cancer, despite a few lame disclaimers to the contrary. And what is this miracle elixir the bloated bureaucracy of scientific medicine has overlooked?

Neoplasene is a derivative of bloodroot, which is one of several caustic herbal products known as escharotics(2). When applied topically in sufficient concentrations, these derivatives burn the flesh and cause tissue necrosis, often leaving thick scabs called eschars, and tremendous local devastation of healthy tissue. The danger of these products is well-illustrated by case reports in the scientific literature(3,4). Though the promoters claim the chemicals somehow recognize cancerous tissue and spare healthy tissue, there is no clinical evidence of this. Some preliminary in vitro research certainly shows the chemicals can kill cells. And there is some limited evidence that they may even be better at killing diseased cells than healthy cells in culture.(5) But when you smear the stuff on your skin to “draw out” the neoplastic cells and leave untouched the healthy tissue, you’re likely to wind up with a gaping hole and a lot of plastic surgery to look forward to. If you’re especially lucky, though, some deeper neoplastic cells will be left behind, and the provider of the salve can then explain why the recurrence or metastasis of your cancer despite its apparent removal by the product is not their fault. Probably chemicals in the water or something.

The promoters of Neoplasene acknowledge, while downplaying, the risk of tissue damage from topical use of their product. They say you should “expect a wound to manage. It size will be in proportion to the extent of the tumor and the amount of Neoplasene compound applied…expect some scarring.”(1) The relevance of their earlier claim that “bloodroot chemicals and Neoplasene are simply not escharotics. They do not burn flesh” isn’t entirely clear, since they seem to be arguing that causing tissue to die and slough off leaving a bloody great hole is fine, so long as it’s through some mechanism other than chemical burn. Hmm.

The FDA has actually gone so far as to ban importation and marketing of bloodroot and other escharotics for cancer treatment, an all-too-rare example of government challenging “Big CAM” which further illustrates how frightening these products are(2). And yet these products are easily found on the Internet and used by a depressingly large number of CAM-oriented veterinarians, likely with a genuine belief that they are curing cancer through a miraculous means ignored by the corrupt and blind medical-industrial complex. I can’t say whether the active use and promotion of such products in the veterinary field, free from government sanction, is due to a loophole in the law or just the fact that the Hydra has many more heads than the FDA has paid investigators.

The only FDA-approved use of a bloodroot derivative, sanguinarine in dentifrice, is no longer popular as it proved to be a significant risk factor for leukoplakia, a potentially pre-cancerous disease(6). And while removal of low-risk, superficial skin tumors can be accomplished with escharotics, there are safer and more effective methods. Far from being a “wonder drug,” these products are an inappropriate and dangerous substitute for real scientific diagnosis and therapy of cancer. And contrary to the nonsense about the venality and blindness of the “cancer industry” and their own great insight, the promoters of Neoplasene are simply the latest head of the corrosive hydra that is bloodroot derivative cancer salves.

1. Fox, T.S. Discussion of and clinical guide for: the treatment of neoplasm, proud flesh and warts with sanguinarine and related isoquinoline alkaloids. Buck Mountain Botanicals, Inc.,, 2008.

2. Barrett, S. Don’t use corrosive cancer salves (escharotics); Quackwatch., 2009.

3. McDaniel, S., Goldman, G.D, Consequences of using escharotic agents as primary treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer. Arch of Dermatol 2002; 138:1593-1596.

4. Moran, AM., Helm, K.F. Histopathologic findings and diagnostic difficulties posed with use of escharotic agents for treatment of skin lesions: a case report and review of the literature. J Cutan Pathol 2008; 35:404-406.

5. Ahmad, N., et al. Differential antiproliferative and apoptotic response of sanguinarine for cancer cells versus normal cells. Clin Cancer Res 2000; 6:1524-1528.

6. Mascarenhas, A.K., Allen, C.M., Moeschberger, M.L., The association between Viadent use and oral leukoplakia-results of a matched case-control study. J Public Health Dent 2002; 62:158-162.

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89 Responses to Neoplasene-The Latest Head of the Escharotic Hydra

  1. Pingback: Neoplasene-The Latest Head of the Escharotic Hydra | plastic surgery

  2. Rita says:

    Just found this blog – it’s really useful! – I’m passing on articles to horse forums to counteract the unregarding promotion of CAM so often found.

  3. v.t. says:

    A local pet blogger in my area fell under the swindling of her vet when her vet told her she had 3 options to treat her dog’s newly diagnosed “soft tissue cancer” (the blogger did not give details of labs, other diagnostics). The options were euthanize, amputate or try an “alternative” botanical salve to burn away the tumor. The blogger chose the latter, understanding that if it didn’t work, that amputation would still be an option. She left an online diary of the treatment, and it’s awful effects, for 6 months, including posting a photo of the mass of rotting tissue engulfing almost the entire front leg. She blindly believed that rotting mass was the salve’s healing effects, claiming the effect was the tumor “breaking away and would eventually fall off”. That a vet would even tell a client to expect such an effect, should be forced to undergo the same treatment, in my opinion.

    A month later, apparently she and her vet somehow surmised the salve was not working. The leg was amputated.

    4 months later, of course, the cancer came “roaring back”, and euthanasia was performed, due to bloody diarrhea, anorexia, recumbency and I imagine, unimaginable pain. I’m sure the blogger was bilked hundreds for this idiotic treatment.

    I wanted to scream, I wanted to confront the vet who suggested this and allowed such “treatment” to the poor innocent, suffering dog. I wanted to scream at the owner for having had no sense to think critically and evaluate the non-evidence for such treatment, until she posted that she had read up on it on the internet, it was clear the power of persuasion was lost. It was clear the quack vet was not interested in palliative or hospice care nor educating her client about the risks, and predictable outcome.

  4. skeptvet says:


    Thanks for sharing that story. People often act as if a skeptical, science-based approach to CAM is just the product of a closed-minded, know-it-all personality looking to criticize anything unfamiliar. Stories like this make it clear that such skepticism is really about protecting our pets, and our clients, from unecessary pain and suffering, from pointless expense, and from the very real harm that faith-based medicine does.

  5. v.t. says:

    Since I don’t know what type of cancer it was, I can only speculate, but I can’t help but wonder had that month of useless salve been avoided, if amputation and a chemotherapy protocol may have saved the dog’s life, or at least provided him a bit more time, living a *comfortable* life at least. At one time, I highly respected the vet, as CAVM was virtually unheard of here, let alone practiced. She started with acupuncture (don’t they all?). Suddenly, the numerous other CAM therapies emerged into her practice. I’ve lost all respect for her. Not informing a client of the lack of evidence for a specific treatment is just criminal.

    Your article hit so close to home. Thanks so much for the information you provide here, I will refer to it often and refer the “alties” I argue with as well 🙂

  6. A.J. says:

    I understand your concerns about this product, but it might help to understand why people turn to products like this in their desperate search for help. Did you ever stop to look at the abysmal “science based” options out there? My dog has cancer, and the treatment they are pushing is chemo so toxic that I would have to wear gloves when giving her the pill and keep my other dog away from her waste. Now if it were this toxic and they could say, hey, it will give her and 80 percent shot at an extra year or two of life, I’d consider that a real option. But their “success” rate is so laughably terrible (40 percent chance of ANY response at all, with a chance that it will add an extra 10 weeks to her life) that I don’t know how they can stand there an offer me that option with a straight face. Maybe the “science based” community should concern itself with finding real science-based options (preferably not toxic) instead of cutting down other options that people turn to in desperation.

  7. skeptvet says:


    Thanks for your comment. The reality is, sadly, that science-based medicine can’t fix everything, and sometimes an honest veterinarian will have to tell you there are no good options. The science-based comunity IS always searching for bettter therapies, but there will always be limits to what we can do. Obviously, this is undoubtedly an important reason why people turn to CAM, as I’ve discussed here before.

    Unfortunately, CAM usually offers only empty promises and false hope. Selling desparate people therapies that don’t work is not a responsible choice even when we are frustrated by the limits of what science-based medicine has to offer. Neoplasene is an example of an empty promise that not only wastes time and money, but causes direct harm and suffering for patients and indirect harm through delaying treatments that might work better, when these exist. Preventing such therapies from being used seems a worthwhile goal to me as science also tries to come up with better choices.

  8. DD says:

    What a disappointment. I clicked to this blog to try to find information on the risks and dangers associated with Neoplasene. Instead i found an angry diatribe against all things CAM. Why don’t you do all us folks trying to cope with sick pets a favor and give us the facts minus all the infantile comments… we are smart enough to draw our own conclusions.

  9. skeptvet says:

    Seems to me like the facts you’re looking for are all there. Try These:

    1. There is no controlled clinical trial evidence that escharotics are beneficial. All the “facts” on the marketing site are mere testimonial and unreliable if not outright false.

    2. There are clear cases of severe harm done by the product, both directly by tissue necrosis and indirectly by delaying diagnosis and appropriate therapy.

    Was there something specific you wanted to know?

  10. dd says:

    if your original blog entry was written as professionally and was as straightforward as your responses to my comment, i would not have felt the need to comment in the first place. i value the information… i do not value the use of blogs as an outlet for angry rants.

  11. dd says:

    put another way… i have no beef with your facts or opinion. my beef is with the sloppy, angry, condescending way in which it is presented. if you are in fact a doctor, surely your education should enable you to present your views in a more professional way. i expect a certain lack of civility in some corners of the internet, but your tone hardly seems necessary here… discussing a serious and emotional topic.

  12. skeptvet says:

    Well I dispute “sloppy,” but I will certainly admit to “angry.” Ridicule seems an appropriate response to the irresponsible marketing of dangerous and useless “cures.” I’ve seen enough pets harmed by sloppy thinking and outright fraud to have some strong feelings about it. As you point out, it is an emotional and serious topic.

    One purpose of this blog is certainly to provide information, and there are a number of dispassionate analyses of the data for and against specific therapies. But another purpose is to highlight the dangers of some of the snake oils on the market, and the unscrupulouos and muddle-headed justification and marketing behind them. I’ve found that people are sometimes open and responsive to facts, but often they are not. However, sometimes blunt and emotional language makes a point that dry data do not.

    So while I do make an effort to be fair when there is genuine and reasonable disagreement about CAM therapies, and I hope that you
    find useful information on my site, I make no apologies for feeling strongly about the danger bogus treatments like neoplasene, and the foolish and dangerous thought processes behind them, pose to my patients or for ridiculing statements such as those I quote in the original post.

  13. Bartimaeus says:


    The second reference skeptvet listed from quackwatch is worth a look if you have not looked at it yet. It involves human cases where the use of escarotics have caused extensive tissue necrosis requiring reconstructive surgery. I discussed this with a friend/client who also happens to be a dermatologist and she has seen several similar cases in the last few years. The animal cases happen as well, but are not as well documented. I received a large folder in the mail recently selling neoplasene, full of glowing testimonials. If I was a less skeptical veterinarian, I might have considered using it, to the disservice of my patients and their owners. Unfortunately many of the claims made by promoters of CAM treatments like neoplasene sound good, but when investigated are unfortunately ridiculous. Trying to be more polite sometimes gives such ideas more credibility than they deserve. In this case the risks and dangers are severe, and the potential benefits so limited, that saying otherwise would be a far greater disservice than risking offending a few people. I hope that you realize how much most skeptics and science-based practitioners really do care for their patients, even when we sometimes fail to express it adequately.

  14. Kevin Berndt says:

    In searching for an alternative to chemo and radiation for my dog, after no success with an interferon protocol and multiple surgeries, I stumbled upon neoplasene in 2008. It’s been extremely successful in the injectable form killing fibrosarcomas that can go undetected to the eye. Yes, they do open up the flesh into an exposed wound, but the results are amazing. The tumors turn gray, shrink, and literally drop off within a week or so of treatment. I’ve seen the results time and time again. Yes, there is some scarring. My dogs hair does not grow back well over the scarred areas, but his health is the issue, not superficial beauty. It does not perform for all types of cancer, and I’m not a fan of it in it’s “oral” form, but results are results and that you cannot deny.

  15. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that creating a wound to destroy a supposed fibrosarcoma one cannot detect in the first place is helpful to the patient. One common problem leading to the perception that useless therapies are having an effect is that the disease they are supposedly treating didn’t exits or was misdiagnosed in the first place, and I suspect that may be a factor in the case you describe.

    Fibrosarcomas are also invasive and usually slowly growing tumors that can appear to be removed visually and yet may or may not be removed microscopically. So if we take one out surgically and also treat with neoplasene and the tumor doesn’t recur, does the neoplasene get the credit or the surgery? Likewise, If neoplasene destroys a visible tumor and it doesn’t grow back for months or years, it may have only destroyed the visible part of the tumor and left behind cells which take time to regrow. Obviously, I don’t know enough about your particular example to say what happened, but I do know enoug about how we make mistakes in assigning credit or blame to medical procedures to have some concerns about taking your anecdote as proof that the product works. I have seen such errors many times, and they are common and easily fool us no matter how smart or educatted we are.

  16. Dr Terrence S Fox says:

    Neoplasene preferentially agglutinates on diseased cells due to glycoproteins , on the cell membrane and in the medication , and due to the basic skeleton of the alkaloid salts that are the active drug. The alkaloids penetrate the cell membrane , cause apoptosis , prevent cell cycle and causes an immune response to the disease. Neoplasene is not an escharotic as is demonstrated by its use systemically where it is carried in the circulatory system attacking only diseased cells and sparing healthy tissue. It is not accurate to declare Neoplasene or NeoplaseneX an escharotic.

  17. skeptvet says:

    Dr. Fox,

    Unfortunately, I have yet to see any evidence beyond your word for this. Bloodroot derivatives are widely recognized as escharatics, and the promotional materials on your web site indicate a topical use and clinical effect that is the same as these other products. The in vitro evidence suggests the chemical does kill cells, and that diseases cells may be more susceptible than healthy cells, but there is no evidence of the preferential binding to specific cell-surface proteins associated with any particular neoplasia, much less every possible neoplasia as you seem to claim. I have also seen no reliable published clinical trial evidence to suggest systemic use of the chemical does what you claim.

    Anyone can claim anything they like, but that is not the same thing as having demonstrated it scientifically. If there are research studies to support your claims, I would be happy to read them and evaluate for myself whether they support what you’re marketing materials say. Otherwise, I am sure you understand that science does not accept new and “revolutionary” ideas solely on the basis of the word of those promoting these ideas.

  18. Sawbones says:

    Attended a 7 YO feline with undifferentiated sarcoma at an injection site today. Referring veterinarian incompletely operated 5/08, reoperated 8/09, injected recurrence with Neoplasene 10/09 and reoperated the same month, reinjected 12/09 and again in 1/09 with a third surgery. Present recurrence was 3/8/10. Unfortunately, the intervening delays posed by injections and local surgical procedures preclude confident wide surgical excision with even hemipelvectomy.

    Referral notes indicate the agent was injected althought this does not seem to be the recommened method of administration. On theory, even if effective, injecting and sloughing the centrum of the neoplasm provides no benefit to the “healthy” infllitrating margin of the neoplasm, which in the case of feline injection site sarcomas, might extend several centimeters peripherally from the mass.

  19. skeptvet says:

    Yes, it is very clear from the literature that for vaccine-associate sarcomas, which this sounds like it was, adequate radical excision at first surgery is the best chance for a good outcome. The delays involved in apply implausible and untested treatments are quite likely to do harm even if the treatments themselves are benign, which is not the case for Neoplasene. Thanks for the reply!

  20. Barbara Wake says:

    My dog is currently being treated (for lymphoma) with the neoplasene protocol as developed by Dr. Fox. My veterinarian has had telephone conferences with Dr. Fox and, until I began reading your comments, I had complete confidence in the treatment. Here is a link to a clinical trial of which you may or may not have been aware —
    Although I am not a medical professional, I was able to understand these findings enough to restore my confidence that I am doing the right thing for my dog.

  21. skeptvet says:


    Thanks for your comment and the reference to the journal article. It was quite interesting. I’m afraid, however, that these findings do not in any way justify this experimental and potentially dangerous use of neoplasene in your pet.

    What does the study show? It shows that a chemical derived from bloodroot can cause human lymphoma cells in a test tube to die. This by itself doesn’t mean anything in terms of treating patients since bleach can also kill cancer cells in a test tube, yet it isn’t a safe or effective treatment for cancer in living patients. However, the specific mechanisms involved in the research study suggest there may be a use for this compound in terms of attacking these cells in specific ways that might not affect healty cells.

    Does this mean we should give it to people or dogs with cancer? Absolutely not. The authors of the paper themselves say their findings “raise the possibility that sanguinarine may be useful against PEL in vivo. Future investigations aimed at determining the efficacy of sanguinarine…are warranted.” The vast majority of such promising initial lab findings turn out to either not be effective, or to have serious and unacceptable side effects when finally tried out in living animals. Certainly, we should continue to research the compound, but this study doesn’t tell us it is safe or effective for cancer in dogs. It is illegal to sell bloodroot derivatives for cancer treatment in the United States because no one knows if they work or are safe, despite the opnions and unfounded claims of Dr. Fox.

    I am truly sorry that you are having to face the effects of cancer in your dog, and I hope that you have good success in treating him. Standard treatment protocols (such as the 25-week modified University of Wisconsin chemotherapy protocol) have been extensively tested, and they are very effective (average of 80% remission rates with an average duration of remission of 10-14 months) with minimal side effects. There are many things you and your vet can do with confidence to help your dog. But neoplasene is not a treatment that has proven safe or effective, so using it is simply an uncontrolled experiment. If you’re fortunate, it will have no ill effects and other treatments will help your dog. If not, this treatment could do real harm.

    I wish you and your dog the best.

  22. CM Campbell says:

    Do you have any experience with oral neoplasene? I am about to see a client who has been using it to treat a nasal carcinoma in an 11 year old GSD until the dog refused to eat food mixed with it. Would you expect local deleterious effects from chronic oral administration? It seems an even farther stretch that orally administered neoplasene could somehow seek out cancerous cells selectively for destruction.

    Do you have any idea how costly this stuff is?

    Thanks so much.

  23. Christy says:

    I have seen the results first hand. My dog had a mast cell tumor verified by FNA I applied the neoplasene and the tumor fell out and it has been 2 years and there have been no re-occurrence. I also had the area biopsied after the area was healed and the pathology found no cancer and no mast cells. My horse had squamous cell carcinoma on her third eyelid verified by biopsy report. We injected the tumor with neoplasene and the tumor is gone and has not reoccurred. It has been 2.5 years. So don’t tell me it doesn’t work. You obviously have a problem with the product and an attidude about the product. The treatment was extremely cheap and my animals do not have cancer anymore. That is all I wanted and that is what I got. With no destructive chemotherapy and no destructive surgery. How is that for scientific evidence. Chemotherapy is most destructive treatment ever to ALL cells. makes no sense to me why any doctor would want to put any animal through that. How horrible and devastating chemotherapy is.

    If you actually look for it there is a lot of evidence that neoplasene works. Many animals have been treated successfully. You are just blind to that. For what reason I do not know but it is sad. I would always try the neoplasene first and then if it did not work I would move on to surgery or chemo. But Chemo would be my absolute last resort. What a horrific treatment it is. It kills everything.

  24. Christy says:

    Also this product of Buck Mountain (Neoplasene) IS FDA approved for Veterinary use. So your facts about that are wrong.

  25. skeptvet says:


    Unfortunately, the anecdotes you provide are not proof the product works. It is always hard to imagine that the direct experiences we have are unreliable, but that’s what kept bloodletting and exorcism popular as medical treatments for thousands of years. There are plenty of alternative explanations for the outcomes you have seen, but I doubt you would be open to considering them. The reality is that only properly conducted scientific research can tell us if these products are beneficial. So far, the little research done has failed to show this, but the reality is not much has been done and so the only conclusions we can draw are 1) it is implausible based on basic science, 2) it is unproven, and 3) it can do harm. If it someday can pass the same standards of evidence we require of conventional cancer treatments, perhaps its risks will be worth taking, but they are not now.

    It’s a shame that you choose to take my objections as somehow personal or ill-motivated. I object to the product because it hasn’t been shown to work, it hurts people and animals, and it is marketed with deceit. My motives are about what is best for my patients.

    It’s also a shame that you have such a dark, and inaccurate view of chemotherapy. I treat dogs and cats with chemotherapeutics for cancer on a regular basis, and the only reason I do so is that the benefits outweigh the risks. Many disease, particularly lymphoma, respond well with few or no side effects. Of course, not all cases do as well as we would like, but that is true for any medical therapy. With respect, you have no idea what you are talking about with regard to veterinary surgery and chemotherapy.

    As for FDA approval, the company’s own marketing materials state “The FDA’s policy of letting veterinarians decide what works and what doesn’t has led to the veterinary use of sanguinarine and related alkaloids, which while under the regulatory authority of the FDA are not required, at this time, to undergo usual procedure and approval.” There has been no FDA approval for this product, and the only approved use for bloodroot derivatives was in tooth pastes, and this use is no longer accepted because of the development of possibly precancerous gum disease, as I mentioned in the post. I am curious what makes you think the FDA has approved neoplasene?

  26. Robin says:

    Skeptvet –

    After reading your “rant” (so accurately described by another reader), I am left feeling like you must have a financial interest in big pharma, for that is the only logical reason I can see that you would put such effort in condemning a product that has successfully treated and prolonged the lives of so many animals.

    You talk about “research” and state that there is no research to prove that neoplasene works, but you rely on research paid for by the drug company that is trying to force a drug through? Unfortunately, the only reason there aren’t clinical trials going on with neo is because the product is already on the market and therefore no drug company can make money on it! They certainly aren’t going to pay to research something they stand to make no financial gains on, but you know that. The “research” therefore has to fall in the clinical experiences of individual owners and their pets. I can tell you the evidence exists, for those who are willing to look for it, in support of neo killing cancer, sending animals into a total remission and/or prolonging the lives of animals who were deemed “untreatable” by people such as yourself who have such a narrow minded view of medicine.

    There are dangers associated with all medicines, herbal/holistic remedies/treatments as well as conventional treatments. I do not believe that any one modality has all the answers which is why it is so important to get vets (and doctors) who are not educated on alternative medicines/treatments, such as yourself, educated to develop a better understanding of the options available. You mock the cost of alternative therapies, but promote radiation and chemo which can cost thousands of dollars! Do you offer your clients who cannot afford those treatments comfort measures or euthanasia? Do you feel that is better than a cheaper alternative? At least offer unbiased information and let your clients make their own educated decisions.

    As for the FDA, who cares if neo is FDA approved or not. You are a fool to have faith that just because a drug is FDA approved it is safe. The FDA’s pockets are very comfortably greased by the pharmaceutical companies. Have we not had FDA approved drugs cause deaths, cancers, deformities, disease, illnesses etc? What about the human cancer trials where non FDA approved drugs are being used in people?

    Maybe you should conduct a clinical research study with neo and see the results for yourself? Oh wait, you wouldn’t make the money using neo as you do with chemo and radiation, my bad. It sure does seem like your motives are financial, because if they truly were what is best for your pt’s, you would be willing to look at all possible options.

    On one final note, do you read the “research” done on all the medications you administer? Because for many of the drugs I have researched the “proof” of the drugs efficacy has been established based on a study of 8-14 beagle dogs in some cases. You really think a single study with so few dogs is sufficient research to “prove” a drug is safe or effective?

    Don’t discount a viable option that may save a client’s loving pet’s life. Be open to alternatives. Educate yourself (outside of the one-sided medical/veterinary community). Don’t be so afraid of possibility.

    –To CM Campbell-

    Rough estimate of price of a bottle of neo for a dog that size is probably between 35-50/month depending on vet. Tell your client to purchase gel caps, syringe the dose of the neo into the gel caps, pop the caps in a little ball of cream cheese or something similar and feed them to the dog preferably in the middle of their meal. The neo will eat through the gel caps pretty fast so you have to have everything ready to go. If the dog does develop stomach upset try giving tagamet a half hour before the meal, it also has cancer fighting properties (helps stop cancer cells from pavementing).


  27. skeptvet says:


    I wonder if you see the irony in your calling my post a “rant?”

    As for the implication of a financial motive it is both inaccurate and evidence of the intellectual and factual poverty of your argument. Having no scientific evidence to offer to counter my criticism you fall back on innuendo and personal attacks.

    You claim that no one will pay for research into the product because it is already on the market and thus proving it works wouldn’t be profitable. you ignore the fact that being on the market means someone is already making a profit on it. The company is not giving it away for free. They are making money selling somehting that has not been proven safe or effective and, in fact, has a known potential for harm. If they spent some of this money on good quality research, there are two possible outcomes. 1) It would show the product works and more mainstream vets would accept it, which would raise the company’s sales and profits or 2) It would show the product doesn’t work and they might lose both their research investment and some of their current sales (tough not all, since you are yourself proof that many people don’t care about real evidence and are happy with meaningless anecdotes and testimonials). I leave it to fair-minded observers to consider why the company is not interested in doing such research.

    The reason I am not interested in conducting such research myself has nothing to do with money. You obviously don’t understand the business side of veterinary medicine. I could make a lot of money selling this and other unproven or outright bogus therapies. I choose not to because I care more about what is best for my patients than about the profit potential of quack therapies. Again, in the absence of any facts to offer, you suggest my opposition must be based on either financial motives or ignorance. Unfortnately, you are mistaken. Financial intersts would lead me to sell the product whether it works or not, and my opposition to doing so is based on my having researched it and found the risks too high and the chance of benefit too low to make it ethical to use.

    As for FDA approval and so on, the reality is that pre-market studies are imperfect and incomplete, They are, however, far better than the nothing you have to support using neoplasene. Again, you can “rant” all you want, but nobody paying attention is going to miss the fact that your anger and self-righteous certainty and personal attacks on me are not accompanied by any facts.

  28. Christy says:

    I would love to hear the “other” explanations on how my dogs mast cell cancer was cured and has not come back. Please. Inform me.

    The only conventional method of dealing with mast cell cancer in a dog is radical surgery. Removing the tumor with a minimum of a 2 inch margin. Mast cells tend to recur and usually always do. Mine has not. I even have the pathology report from before and after. The pathologist clearly states that interestingly the “tumor” has been replaced by scar tissue. There were no mast cells present.

    I would also love to hear “other” explanations on how my horses Squamous Cell Carcinoma disappeared and never returned after injecting the neoplasene. I can’t wait to hear of any explanation on how a pathology report notes cancer and then later no cancer and no tumor.

    In the years of my knowledge about neoplasene and seeing it used for years I have never seen any harm done. Only the complete opposite.

    As far as your chemotherapy I have seen numerous time the immense damage it does all while hardly ever curing the cancer. There are very few instances that chemotherapy cures cancer. You have to remove the tumor. That is the part that gets rid of the cancer. Chemotherapy after removal is just a way to make money and harm the patients. Sometimes even killing the patients. Yeah, that sounds much better than neoplasene..

    Its a shame there are Veterinarians out there that think like you and thankfully they are becoming fewer by the day. Thankfully most vets are willing to broaden their mind and I am truly lucky to work with a few of them. It would be a sad day for all animals if they had only you to treat them for cancer. I am grateful for my research and grateful that I have many vets that are open minded and use this product to save lives without horrifying side effects like chemotherapy. Which has killed more animals and people than neoplasene could ever dream of.

  29. Pingback: Supraglan: Empty Promises, Not Medicine « The SkeptVet Blog

  30. Lori says:

    I have to agree with Christy on the effectiveness of Neo on mast cell tumors. I’m referring to an 11-year-old Golden Retriever with history of biopsy-proven mast cell in his pelvis and hind paw. The pelvic lesion was surgically resected and the lesion on his paw was treated with laser. A short time later the dog developed recurrent mast cell on both front paws with mets to the lung and spleen. He was treated with oral Neo paste for 4 weeks. The lesions on his paws turned black within 48 hours and then healed over during the next 2-3 weeks. His cough resolved over the course of 7-10 days. Follow up X-Rays of his lungs are now clear 9 months later. He underwent Spleenectomy to remove the mass after Neo treatment and the pathology report indicated no cancer, just necrotic tissue. May be coincidence…or not…

  31. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but metastatic mast cell neoplasia is a disaster, so there are two possibilities here:
    1) The story you’re telling isn’t what really happened (for example, the splenic lesion was a hematoma that had nothing to do with the mast cell tumors, the lung lesions were assumed to be mast cell disease but were something else that went away spontaneously or with some other treatment you didn’t mention, and the skin lesions were low-grade tumors which often respond to surgery)


    2) Neoplasene is a miracle drug that can do what nothing else every discovered has even come close to doing.

    You probably choose 2 regardless of how unlikely it is. The problem I have with that is that if it’s true it should be a piece of cake to produce believable clinical studies to prove it, rather than anecdptes like this one, yet in the decades that people have been recommending this stuff nobody has been able to do this. So miracle drug or human error? Which is more likely?

  32. Lori says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. The lung lesions were biopsy-proven cancer and there was no surgical intervention for the lesions on his paws, just the Neo. He was on amoxicillin and benedryl during the first few days of Neo (to prevent histamine reaction) so it’s theoretically possible that the amoxicillin and/or the benedryl cured the cancer – but then, why hasn’t the pharmaceutical industry raved about it as a miracle drug if this is the case? The previous mast cell in the dog’s pelvis was also biopsy-proven mast cell. Your guess is as good as mine if the Neo wasn’t effective here. Maybe the pathologists were all wrong and he never had mast cell in his pelvis, on his paw or in his lungs.

    Here’s an interesting article:

    Article in Clinical Cancer Research, April 2000

    Differential Antiproliferative and Apoptotic Response of Sanguinarine for Cancer Cells versus Normal Cells.

    Nihal Ahmad, Sanjay Gupta, Mirza M. Husain, Kaisa M. Heiskanen and Hasan Mukhtar

    Full article available at:


    Sanguinarine, derived from the root of Sanguinaria canadendid, has been shown to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Here we compared the antiproliferative and apoptotic potential of sanguinarine against human epidermoid carcinoma (A431) cells and normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs). Sanguinarine treatment was found to result in a dose-dependent decrease in the viability of A431 cells as well as NHEKs albeit at different levels because sanguinarine-mediated loss of viability occurred at lower doses and was much more pronounced in the A431 carcinoma cells than in the normal keratinocytes. DNA ladder assay demonstrated that compared to vehicle-treated control, sanguinarine treatment of A431 cells resulted in an induction of apoptosis at 1-, 2-, and 5-?M doses. Sanguinarine treatment did not result in the formation of a DNA ladder in NHEKs, even at the very high dose of 10 ?M. The induction of apoptosis by sanguinarine was also evident by confocal microscopy after labeling the cells with annexin V. This method also identified necrotic cells, and sanguinarine treatment also resulted in the necrosis of A431 cells. The NHEKs showed exclusively necrotic staining at high doses (2 and 5 ?M). We also explored the possibility of cell cycle perturbation by sanguinarine in A431 cells. The DNA cell cycle analysis revealed that sanguinarine treatment did not significantly affect the distribution of cells among the different phases of the cell cycle in A431 cells. We suggest that sanguinarine could be developed as an anticancer drug.

    At present, only a few agents are known to possess the potential for selective/preferential elimination of cancer cells without affecting the normal cells (2 , 3) . This study provides the first evidence that sanguinarine, at micromolar concentrations, imparts a cell growth-inhibitory response in human squamous carcinoma (A431) cells via an induction of apoptosis. In sharp contrast, NHEKs do not show any evidence of apoptosis but undergo necrotic cell death on treatment with higher concentrations of sanguinarine. We suggest that by modulating apoptotic machinery, sanguinarine may be able to affect the steady-state cell population and thus possesses a potential for development as an agent against skin cancer and possibly against other cancer types as well.
    Previous SectionNext Section

  33. Heidi says:

    I just wanted to personally thank ALL of the pet owners who have posted here in defense of Neoplasene. We are about to start treatment for my dog who has been diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma. You have taken all doubt from my mind that Neoplasene is the right treatment choice for my dog. I have personally spoken with Dr. Fox. He is a wonderful human being. He has offered unlimited help to my Vet who will be treating my dog. I will be thrilled to be able to come back here and report her progress.

  34. Jim says:

    My labrador, Duke, a 12 year old neutered male, was recently diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Weighing in on my past experience with mast cell tumors on my prior lab, and the negative effects conventional cancer therapy offered, with the help of his vet and the pet owners posting here in defense of Neoplasene, I have chosen Neoplasene as our course of therapy for Duke.
    April 6, 2011, Duke began oral Neoplasene treatment which I intend to administer in accordance with Dr. Fox’s protocol for osteosarcoma.
    Herein lies an opportunity to research, clinically try, or otherwise observe the effects of Neoplasene on osteosarcoma.
    Myself keeping an open mind and desire to explore all options for the best treatment and cure for Duke, I have scheduled an appointment for Duke with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine on April 12, 2011. The clinical opportunity exists, here and now.

  35. skeptvet says:

    This is an opportunity for a case study, not clinical research. A single case can only suggest a subject to pursue through detailed controlled studies. It can never prove anything.

    Did you know, for example, that while renal carcinoma in people was previously thought to be invariable progressive and fatal, new imaging studies of people without clinical symptoms but with biopsy-proven renal carcionoma have shown 14% of the cancers spontaneously go away due to the normal activities of the immune system. If we treat 1 person with a new therapy and their cancer goes away, it may not be because of the therapy. In fact, with this statistic it is clear that if we treat 100 people and 14 of them are cured, it still may have nothing to do with the therapy. That is why anecdotes and case series aren’t a reliable guide to what works or doesn’t work in medicine.

    If your dog has osteosarcoma confirmed on biopsy by the vets at UCD, if he receives no treatment other than neoplasene, and if the vets at UC Davis confirm the cancer disappears, I will be very happy for you, and even intrigued enough to consider supporting controlled clinical trials on the drug, which I currently think would not be justifiable. But this will not prove Neoplasene is safe and effective.

    And if his cancer progresses as expected without other treatment, what will you say? Will you say it proves Neoplasene doesn’t work? Will you say it proves nothing because Neoplasene might have worked in another dog, or for another tumor, or if something else had been done differently? And if he recieves other therapies as well, which will you credit with the result if he does better or worse than expected? Is your mind truly open, including to the possibility that Neoplasene is a useless scam, or are you already sure it is a beneficial drug and by open-minded you really mean you believe it works and you think a single case can prove this?

  36. Mark says:

    My best friend’s white German Shepherd was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma at the end of this past January. The dog underwent a splenectomy on Feb 14 and had the tumor removed. He opted not to do chemo, which generally adds 3-6 months to the survival time. At his vet’s recommendation, he put her on a herbal regimen (mixed with her food) that was prepared by some vet who “specializes” in complimentary meds and has had some “moderate success” with it in the past. My friend’s vet was very upfront about how aggressive this type of cancer is and the poor prognosis it brings. The dog had it’s good and bad days, as is typical with this type of cancer, but took a turn for the worse around mid to late March. As a last resort, the vet suggested neoplasene administered orally mixed with food. My friend was under no disillusions as to the uphill battle he was fighting and was basically praying for a miracle. That miracle was not to be, as around 2:00 am this morning the dog succumbed to the disease. The end was bloody and ugly. A horrible way for any creature to die. My heart goes out to my buddy and his beloved dog. He phoned me early this morning and together we transported this beautiful 80lb. animal to the crematorium. My friend is now beating himself up saying the neoplasene must have “shredded” her insides causing her to bleed violently out of every orifice. I, of course, assured him that was probably not the case as this type of death is not uncommon with the type of cancer his dog had. The truth is, I have no idea if the neoplasene harmed the dog in any way. I do know, however, it did not help at all.

  37. skeptvet says:

    Thank you for sharing that painful story. It’s impossible to know what role, if any, the neoplasene may have played in what happened, but as you correctly say such a death is not uncommon with hemangiosarcoma if a pet is not euthanised.

    Proponents of such remedies inevitably tell only stories that make the treatment seem like a success, but while anecdotes themselves are not proof either way, we shouldn’t forget the many animals and their owners like your friend who find the promises made for such treatments to be empty and false.

  38. Greg says:

    OK, I get it that there is a dearth of studies on neoplasene, and its main active ingredient sanguinarine. So without further scientific study, it is irresponsible to assure people that the substance is effective and safe for treating cancers, you’re saying. Got it.
    But there are a few interesting studies on sanguinarine (not Neoplasene) I find on the web, most of which (American studies) indicate good potential for the stuff as a drug against cancer. (A French study found little potential.)
    So — what can I do, as a non-scientist, to push for studies on the use of sanguinarine as a cancer drug? To whom should I write? How can I help get this substance tested?
    Thank you.

  39. Greg says:

    Hmm… I tried to post a list of the six studies I found in a quick search of the web, but this page thought I was advertising, so it wouldn’t allow it. They’re easy to find; the NIH site PubMed has several.

  40. skeptvet says:

    Apart from forming your own foundation to fund them, there isn’t much you can do to encourage research into a particular potential therapy. There are literally thousands of ideas and hypotheses like this one out there, most of which will turn out to be unproductive, and there is no ideal way to select the ones that get studies. Right now, studies are primarily conducted by industry, mostly Big Pharma, which has lots of pitfalls but also generates most of the useful medicines out there. Government funds some, and IMHO should fund more, but that’s a hot-button political issue I won’t go into here. Also private foundations do fund some basic and more clinical research.

    I would also say that those companies already profiting from selling these supposed treatments have a moral responsibility to conduct research to determine if they are truly safe and effective, but without the coercive authority of government, which makes Big Pharma do so, the moral incentive isn’t enough for most private industries to do so.

    As for the studies, if you are aware of any I didn’t mention in the review, you should be able to post the names and citation information (it’s usually a lot of links that raise the hackles of the spam software). I’m happy to look at them, but what I’ve seen so far are not clinical studies but instead in vitro research showing sanguinarine kills cancer cells in test tubes. So does hydrogen perxide, bleach, and a lot of other things, but that doesn’t necessarily make them useful cancer drugs. There is some evidence that the compound is more toxic to one kind of cancer cell than the normal version of the same cell in humans, but again that is true of thousands of compounds which make it as far as Phase II clinical trials and then fail to show real benefits in living patients, so it is only a suggestion that further research might be useful, not a good reason to give it to actual patients.

    I think most people don’t realize how many good ideas in science fail before to live up to their promise, so when there is preliminary reason to think something might be useful we tend to get more excited than is probably reasonable. In any case, it’s possible further study on sanguinarine will lead to a real useful cancer drug, but we aren’t there yet, and there may be very good reasons we don’t know about for why it hasn’t made it into clinical trials yet despite more than 10 years of in vitro research.

    Here are some recent studies which show that there still is ongoing research and interest in this compound, though it hasn’t reached the stage of clinical testing yet. There are also some studies which show the clinical danger and possible cancer enhancing effects of sanguinarine, so there is as much reason to be worried about this compound as there is to be hopeful.

    Sanguinarine Suppresses Prostate Tumor Growth and Inhibits Survivin Expression.
    Sun M, Lou W, Chun JY, Cho DS, Nadiminty N, Evans CP, Chen J, Yue J, Zhou Q, Gao AC.
    Genes Cancer. 2010 Mar 1;1(3):283-292.

    J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Oct;16(10):1125-7. Epub 2010 Oct 9.
    An Internet misadventure: bloodroot salve toxicity.
    Cienki JJ, Zaret L.

    Chem Biol Interact. 2010 Dec 5;188(3):591-7. Epub 2010 Aug 5.
    Potentiation of tumour promotion by topical application of argemone oil/isolated sanguinarine alkaloid in a model of mouse skin carcinogenesis.
    Ansari KM, Das M.

    Sanguinarine induces apoptosis of human osteosarcoma cells through the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways.
    Park H, Bergeron E, Senta H, Guillemette K, Beauvais S, Blouin R, Sirois J, Faucheux N.
    Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Aug 27;399(3):446-51. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

    Histopathologic findings and diagnostic difficulties posed with use of escharotic agents for treatment of skin lesions: a case report and review of the literature.
    Moran AM, Helm KF.
    J Cutan Pathol. 2008 Apr;35(4):404-6.

    And so on…

  41. Tom says:

    My cat is in his last days. He is suffering from a squamous cell carcinoma under his tongue. Surgery, we learned this morning, is not a viable option. Indy (our cat), as far as I can tell, is relatively comfortable with the aid of Bupranex. He’s managing to stay hydrated and eat, though I don’t think quite enough to maintain weight. He does feel well enough to enjoy our company, at least for now; though at times he is obviously not comfortable.

    My vet suggested we try a steroid injection to see if that can provide some reduction in symptoms. I realize, even if it helps, we’re likely talking days, weeks at best. So we are faced with closely watching our beloved cat and trying to infer if he still has a decent quality of life, or if we should call the vet who does euthanasia in the home. It’s only a matter if time for the latter.

    Towards the end of my conversation with the vet this afternoon after the steroid injection, he mentioned Neoplasene. He said he mentioned it in the interest of sharing all available options, and suggested I look into it to judge for myself if it were an option.

    Having spent several hours researching Neoplasene, I cannot justify subjecting our cat to the treatment. I am a bit surprised our vet even mentioned it. I am greatly disappointed that there are no clinical trials to support the anecdotal cases presented by Dr. Fox and others. I read his and related papers, and while the theory seems intriguing, I simply don’t see the right kind of research to back his claims. Given that Neoplasene has been on the market for so long, I cannot fathom the lack of hard science– especially if it works as well as Dr. Fox says. If it does work that well, and there were clinical trials to back his claims, Neoplasene would be the primary treatment of choice for pretty much all cancer– in animals and humans.

    There are reasons for scientific protocols. Although I desperately want there to be an option for my cat, I cannot subject him to extended suffering based on the quality of evidence at hand. I am happy for those who have reported success, and I think it would be fantastic if Neoplasene can do all Dr. Fox says it does. I just wish for the sake of Indy that independent science were saying it as well. All I can say is if I were Dr. Fox, I’d be expending every effort and expense to do clinical trials.

  42. skeptvet says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is always painful to face the suffering of a beloved companion, and it is harder not to be able to have a concrete action you can take that will clearly make it better. But I cannot emphasize strongly enough that you are doing the best for you cat by not subjecting him to an unproven treatment which is as likely to add to his suffering as it is to help, if it does anything at all. I agree that if it were the miraculous cure it is often claimed to be, it shouldn’t be difficult to prove this in a reliable scientific way. The fact that it is still supported only by testimonials despite having been around for a long time is a warning sign that all is not as Dr. Fox claims.

    Thank you again.

  43. Melissa says:

    I am starting to use Neoplasene in my cat for sarcoma probably induced by vaccines due to the location of the tumor, but she hasn’t been vaccinated in about 3 years, after yearly vaccines for about 6 years. The tumor has grown very fast and it has gotten to be quite large, the recommendation of my vet was to just leave it until it was time to put her down, which goes against my character, he agreed on giving Neoplasene a try as there is no other option. We tried surgery but the tumor was not just a mass that could be taken out. We just started this week so I don’t know what outcome we will have, what I know is that when I asked my vet about chemoteraphy he just told me I would not want my cat to go through that. We all know chemo kills all kinds of cells not only cancer, so what is the problem if Neoplasene kills other cells too? It’s the same thing, but it seems as not as debilitating and with huge side effects like chemo, which anyways most of the time gives only some more months of life. Who cares about scars, or plastic surgery when life is the priority? If my cat gets over this cancer and doesn’t grow hair back, or has a huge scar or whatever I will be grateful for still having her alive!
    I prefer to give this other option a chance until I see my cat is suffering which she is not at this point, and if that time comes it will be when I will decide to put her to sleep, which was the option given to me anyway once the cancer started to make her life difficult.
    If it works for us it will be great, if it doesn’t we gave it a chance, much more than just waiting for the time to put her to sleep, and I will have peace with that knowing that we tried what we could and that she didn’t suffer the side effects of chemo.
    Hopefully we will be on the other side of big pharma along with the other people here that have had success with Neoplasene.

  44. skeptvet says:

    As someone who does chemotherapy routinely in pets, I’m afraid you have the wrong idea about it. Sure, any medication that’s doing anything at all has possible side effects. But toxicity is about dose. In veterinary medicine, chemotherapy is about prolonging quality of life, not just life. In most cases the side effects are minimal and easily controlled. If they are greater than the benefit, then there is not point in continuing and we stop. Chemotherapy drugs are well understood, and the risks and benefits can be weighed against each other.

    Neoplasene, on the other hand, is a form of Russian Roulette, with the benefits being unknown and unproven and the risks being very real, though hard to quantify since no one has studied it is a systematic way. While I agree that chemotherapy is unlikely to be of value to a cat with a vaccine-associated sarcoma, trying some made up therapy which has been known to cause great harm and suffering in humans is not a better choice; it is a roll of the dice. It might help, though there is no reason to think so. It might also cause sufferig or reduce the quality of your cat’s life. Despite the marketing claims, no one really knows. Desparation may make us prone to taking such gambles, but the sad reality is that sometimes it is better to provide what comfort we can and enjoy the time we have with our pets than to grasp at straws and take a chance of making things worse.

    I’m sorry you are in this awful position, and I hope things work out well for you and your companion.

  45. Bruce Boatner says:

    I am a huge fan of Black Salve and/or Bloodroot-derived medications. The reason that the “monster” keeps “raising its ugly head” is because of the vast number of people who have derived life-saving benefits from said products. I’d just be wasting my time trying to enumerate the cases I’ve seen in my own lifetime, so I won’t waste my breath. The equivalent attack campaign for human use entails horror stories of “disfigurement due to self-directed cancer treatment”, with the same old couple of unverifiable pictures that keep getting trotted out time and time again. This should be balanced against the “recommended approach” – Mohs Surgery – a Frankenstein procedure that involves sewing part of your forehead to your nose and is touted as the greatest tool in the dermatological arsenal. Obviously every single product is not viable. There will continue to be snake oil salesmen as long as there are snakes and salesmen. I have just removed a rather nasty growth on my forearm using Black Salve, probably saving myself a couple grand in the process. One problem with the “standard” approach is that the surgeon does not know where the boundaries of the diseased area lie, and invariably must remove some degree of healthy tissue (while perhaps leaving some satellite cells to re-grow). I am a career Electrical Engineer and am no easy touch when it comes to matters based on logic. I was at first skeptical when I started researching this field over 10 years ago, but was at least able to maintain an open mind long enough to examine the evidence. And evidence there is. LOTS of it. At this time I would challenge any “party line” apologist to show me their evidence, and I will show them mine. I am confident that I can produce an order of magnitude more data supporting the efficacy of Bloodroot-derived products than they can dredge up the same old tired horror stories. Knowledge is power. Don’t let people tell you what to think. They are not evil, but they ARE unknowingly influenced by interests that have very specific objectives in mind. ~bb

  46. Lissa says:

    Neoplasene WORKS, but we are not going to convince the people that refuse to believe. Their lack of a deep understanding of this product will never be cured because of their inability to be objective and closed minds.

  47. skeptvet says:

    No., lack of understanding can only be cured by evidence and proof. As long as Neoplasene has none, anecdotes and passionate belief aren’t going to do the job.

  48. skeptvet says:

    Yes, you’d be wasting your time trotting out individual anecdotes. And as long as people fail to understand that such stories, which have justified every wortheless medical therapy in history from bloodletting to animal sacrifice, are as useless as evidence as they are emotionally compelling, people will continue to believe in things for which there is no real evidence.

    I find it strange, though, that telling people to judge the evidence for themselves rather than simply believe in testimonials from believers is viewed as somehow telling people what to think. You are essentially telling people to believe it because you believe it and you say so. Isn’t that what telling people what to think really is? If you have the kind of rigorous clinical trial evidence that actually means something, please bring it forward. But if you make a claim, the burden is on you to back it up. Shifting the burden to those who question the claim to prove it isn’t true is just a dodge.

    As for “unknowingly under the influence” of unnamed malign forces presumed to be the Pharmaceutical Industry, the astounding arrogance defenders of this product so often show in assuming doubting their claims could only be due to deliberate closed-mindedness or to nefarious influences is unconscionable. I doubt the claims about this product because I have thoughtfully considered the poor quality and quantity of the evidence for them. Period.

  49. Bruce Boatner says:

    It might be interesting to consider that perhaps we are both attempting to accomplish the same end, which is to present the public with facts that will allow them to reach their own conclusions. I am not your enemy, because I have absolutely nothing to gain from the outcome of this discussion one way or the other. Quite the contrary, I understand and respect the fact you are trying to inform your public of potential disinformation that could lead to heartbreaking consequences for their furry loved ones.

    We must consider that we all frequently use language as a subtle weapon. One man’s “facts” are another man’s “anecdotes”. Then the other guy’s “anecdotes” can simply be rejected outright, based on their source. In that light, consider the following:

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Herbert Spencer

    A large number of the problems we face today as a society (globally and locally) are attributable to a range of fundamentalist attitudes which are closely aligned with the above aphorism. This mindset dictates that any variation from the accepted doctrine is heresy and any attempt to understand the opposing view is treason. I understand and respect where you are coming from and what you are trying to accomplish. Again, I can only base my opinion on personal observations, and I don’t mind being shown where I’m wrong.

    I was attracted to my field – Electrical Engineering – because when you design a piece of electronic equipment, either it works as intended or it doesn’t. That makes it real easy for simple-minded people like me to know if we’re doing the job right – not too much gray area to deal with. I basically have taken the same approach to my investigation of Black Salve and Bloodroot-derived medications.

    Essentially, then, the crux of the issue is that I sincerely believe that I have evidence to support the efficacy of Bloodroot-based products, and you feel you have evidence to support the opposite view. It really shouldn’t be THAT difficult to work out where the preponderance of evidence lies, should it? Why is it so difficult? This is where I suspect (perhaps incorrectly) that there are other factors (e.g. competing interests) that enter the equation.

    In the specific case of Neoplasene, I have recently witnessed it work exceptionally well on my friend’s Golden Retriever. A mass showed up on her front leg – the vet diagnosed it as a lipoma. It grew very quickly and my friend had it checked again – this time it was correctly diagnosed as a Soft Tissue Sarcoma (STS). It was operated on and the mass removed, but it returned with a vengeance about two months later. This time he took her to another vet who treated the new growth with Neoplasene. It worked (but a very messy process !) and she’s now fine.

    A few months later our lovely old Black Lab Sugarbear suddenly developed a lump on her shoulder/neck region which grew frighteningly fast to a softball-sized mass in literally days. It was diagnosed as STS, and inoperable due to its involvement with the carotid artery and critical nerve structures. Also due to her advanced age and other underlying conditions (phenobarbital for seizures and suspected brain tumor, Rimadyl for arthritis, etc), we decided to take a palliative route. Luckily she didn’t seem to be in too much pain and we spent our last days with her never leaving her side – sleeping on the couch next to her, sitting with her in the back yard until late into the evening (she loved the outdoors).

    When she could no longer control even the most rudimentary aspects of her physical being, she was put to sleep peacefully in her bed in the back of our Jeep Cherokee, licking Philadelphia Cream Cheese off a tongue depressor (a Lab to the end). My goal was to ensure that she should experience no pain or fear as far as possible. I can tell you, even as a grown man, I cannot write these words without fighting back the tears.

    We all love our animals. If Sugarbear had been her younger feisty self, and perhaps we had become cognizant of her condition at an earlier stage, I would not have hesitated to treat her with Neoplasene for the simple fact that the objective evidence that I had been privy to up to this point would have lead me to the conclusion that I would be acting in her best interest.

    There are a lot of misdirection out there, put forth by those who might be considered ill-informed at best and frauds at worst. This is one more reason the FDA should establish reasonable approval processes, support and regulate these unpatented medicines. Vets and physicians should be educated in their usage as part of their standard training. If it is deemed that application should be done only under the supervision of a licensed health care professional, I would consider that decision reasonable.

    Just remember that the surgeon who recommended hand-washing before invasive procedures was nearly hounded out of the medical profession. That leeches are again being used to address certain circulatory conditions and maggots are considered an optimal means of debriding certain wound types. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath-water when considering any tool that might help to keep our critters around for as long as we possibly can. There are some bad players out there, no doubt, but I think the ultimate harm they can do is to keep viable treatments from the public.

  50. skeptvet says:

    Lots of interesting issues raised in your comment. To start with, you appear to assume, with your quotation of Herbert Spencer, that my objections to the claims made about Neoplasene are a priori. This is false. My objections are based on a careful consideratioin of the claims made, the available evidence, and the principles of how scientific investigations in the field of medicine work. You presume I object due to adherence to dogma, but that is simply your assumption. In reality, my opinions are the result of years of considering how beliefs are formed and maintained and how we mislead ourselves, as well as on years of training and active work in the field of medicine. I have no personal investment in the outcome either. If Neoplasene worked, I could easily incorporate it into my practice and help my patients with no negative impact on my income, prestige, or any other personal agenda you might imagine lies behind my objections. I often eschew therapies like Neoplasene, autologous stem cell therapy, and others which could in fact increase my income because I feel the evidence does not justify their use and so it is unethical to use them. I have no doubt we have the same goals, and I have not questioned your motives as you have mine, only your conclusions and the evidence behind them.

    The difference we seem to have is primarily epistemological. You consider uncontrolled individual experiences as probative, and I do not, based on a lengthy history of such anecdotes leading to erroneous conclusions in medicine. Anecdotes are stories, and facts are facts. Reasonable people may differ on what the facts are, but there is no confusion between facts and anecdotes apart from mistaking the latter for the former, as you appear to be doing. You say you can only base your opinion on personal experience. The stories you tell about Neoplasene do not demonstrate that the claims about it are true, any more than similar stories told over hundreds or thousands of years demonstrate the truth behind bloodletting, cupping, exorcism, mammary artery ligation, antibiotics for idiopathic cystitis in cats, or any of the other thousands of medical therapies that people just as smart and well-meaning as we are have believed in but which turned out not to work. Personal experience is deeply unreliable as a guide to the facts when it comes to medical treatments. Here is a brief list of resources (I could easily provide hundreds more since it is a huge field of research) that explain and illustrate this in detail, which you might wish to peruse if you are truly open to the possibility that your experience might not actually mean what you believe it means:

    Why Clinical Experience is Often Misleading
    Personal Experience in Medicine
    Anecdotal Evidence

    Don’t Believe Everything You Think by Thomas Kida
    Why Smart People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

    As for the role of the FDA, I certainly agree that a vigorous process of regulating veterinary therapies is needed. Neoplasene undoubtedly violates many FDA regulations in making claims not backed by the kind of stepwise clinical trials required for FDA licensing. The resources available to enforce such rules are laughable, so many people get away with selling remedies without any reasonable evidence of safety and efficacy. Those rules exist because of the great harm such unproven remedies did to people in the 18th and 19th centuries. But since none of us personally remember the age of medical anarchism, and most people haven’t bothered to study the history of medical regulation, people forget that a libertarian medical marketplace is both inefficient and bad for patients.

    In any case, the burden for proving claims of safety and efficacy for a medical therapy is on those advocating and marketing the therapy, not on those who question its usefulness. It is not up to me to prove it doesn’t work, it is up to you or other proponents of it to prove it does. And, of course, by “prove” I mean demonstrate effectiveness via sound scientific methods: in vitro and basic science demonstrating the plausibility of the mechanism, controlled and systematic animal model studies demonstrating safety and possible beneficial effects, and controlled systematic clinical trials in the target species demonstarting safety and effectiveness under real world conditions. Simply saying that lots of people have tried it and think it works isn’t adequate because lots of people believe things that aren’t actually true all the time.

    Lastly, leeches are not used for therapeutic bloodletting to relieve an imbalance in the vital humors as they were for hundreds of years, because those theories and practices turned out to be wrong despite the thousands of people who believed in them for centuries. The fact that scientific research has demonstrated some specific and limited use for the creatures is not, as you seem to think, evidence that all ideas are valid or equally likely to be true. It is actually a great example of the fact that science does what no other method of investigation has been able to do: separate the piles of nonsense from the few grains of truth in people’s beliefs. Some seemingly crazy ideas have turned out to be true, of course. But the vast majority have turned out to be crazy and have been justly forgotten. We remember the exceptions.

    Keeping viable treatments from the public surely would be a bad thing. But not all treatments are viable, and the way we tell which is which is through systematic, controlled studies that compensate for the weaknesses in our perceptions and judgements, not through trying things out haphazardly to “see if it works” in individuals. And keeping useless or harmful therapies from the public, even if there are people able and willing to market them effectively and profit from getting people to believe in them, is a necessary public service. As I’ve said before, I am open to any evidence you have to back up your claims about Neoplasene, but again all I see are stories, and these simply don’t carry the weight you believe they should.

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