Media Hype No Cure For Cancer
The New Zealand distributor of a green-lipped mussel extract being touted as a possible cancer cure has halted distribution after recognising that claims made in promotional material far outstrip any evidence from research and are in breach of the Medicines Act.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr Stewart Jessamine said Pacific Pharmaceuticals voluntarily stopped distribution after the Ministry's therapeutic unit, Medsafe, pointed out that Lyprinol was not registered as a medicine.
"Basically anything which claims to cure a disease or condition, or to improve it, is defined as a medicine," Dr Jessamine said. "But medicines have to be quite rigorously assessed before they are licensed for distribution. That assessment typically includes evidence from clinical trials involving at least 1000 people. To suggest, therefore, that Lyprinol is curative when we know the Australians are only just embarking on a clinical trial of 100 people is clearly in breach of the Medicines Act."
No application to register Lyprinol as a medicine has even been received, Dr Jessamine said.
Pacific Pharmaceuticals had not initiated the publicity. The Ministry of Health was still clarifying who had done so, posting material on the Internet and alerting some media, and would then decide what action to take.
"We don't have all the information yet. But at this stage it appears commercial interests have used media releases to drum up demand for a quite unproven "cancer cure".
"While some agencies may believe that this is an acceptable way to operate we would like to disabuse them of that notion. The Medicines Act makes it very clear what the rules are both for licensing and for advertising."
"We would also like to caution people with cancer and their families against such cynical marketing ploys," Dr Jessamine said.
"While we would all like to think that there was a prospect of a cure for people with cancer sadly that is not the case," he said.