WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Canadian company promoting electromagnetic therapy to cure cancer and a Mexican clinic that provided the $15,000 treatments have been shut down as a result of an international fraud investigation.
Some cancer patients died after foregoing traditional medical treatments to receive CSCT Inc.'s ``Zoetron Therapy'' in Tijuana, Mexico, Federal Trade Commission officials said Thursday.
The FTC filed a lawsuit charging CSCT, based in British Columbia, with using its Internet site to make false claims targeting cancer patients in the United States and elsewhere. The company said it could treat cancers of the breasts, lung, brain and liver; the FTC says the treatment doesn't work.
U.S. District Court in Chicago has issued an injunction prohibiting CSCT from making the claims, freezing the company's assets and shutting down its Web site while the government's lawsuit is pending.
CSCT officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mexican officials inspected the Tijuana clinic, determined it was using an unapproved treatment under Mexican law, and shut it down, the FTC said.
CSCT claimed that its process, also known as ``Cell Specific Cancer Therapy,'' could kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. This led some patients to choose the alternative treatment over traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy, that can harm both cancerous and healthy cells, the FTC alleges.
Patients wired $15,000 to CSCT in Canada to pay for up to eight weeks at the Tijuana clinic. In some cases, patients were told that their cancer had been destroyed, only to return home and learn from their doctors that their conditions had grown worse, the FTC said.
Some patients had progressed beyond the point where they could be treated effectively by other means, and died soon after leaving the CSCT clinic, the FTC charged.
``Phony treatments targeting U.S. consumers with serious illness are a significant concern for the FTC and its partners,'' said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The agency is working with Canadian and Mexican authorities to stop scams that try to evade law enforcement by operating in one country and targeting consumers in another, Beales said.
Mark McClellan, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, endorsed the effort ``to crack down on those who would deliberately mislead patients.''
The FTC's complaint, filed Feb. 6 in Chicago, names CSCT, based in Naramata, British Columbia, as well as CSCT Ltd., based in London.
The FTC also announced a lawsuit against another Canadian company, accused of charging consumers' credit and debit cards without authorization.
The company called consumers in the United States offering worthless credit card loss protection services and later, a phony health care discount plan. The FTC alleges that the operations actually were designed to get consumers' credit account numbers and checking account numbers and bill them whether they wanted the services or not.
The defendants used several business names, including National Credit Card Security and Med Plan, the FTC said.
The commission files a civil complaint when it has reason to believe the law has been broken, and a court decides the issue.