The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about cesium chloride (CsCl), a mineral salt that is sometimes administered to cancer patients by mouth or by injection at the hands of naturopaths and other alternative practitioners in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of its safety or efficacy in the treatment of cancer.
Dangers cited by the FDA include death, cardiac arrest, low potassium, seizures, fainting, and heart arhythmias attributable to the use of CsCl.
The agency intends to take regulatory action against violators of this new standard, such as issuing warning letters, seizure of product, seeking a court injunction, or criminal prosecution against any pharmacy or health care practitioner who compounds a drug containing CsCl.
As Science-Based Medicine (SBM) explains, proponents of CsCl, mainly naturopaths and other alternative providers, have been able to compound the drug which they claim is used for the treatment of cancer. They assert that cesium neutralizes the toxic material produced by tumor cells and prevents them from dividing – even though there’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. They also claim that cesium chloride has a history of use among professionals in integrative medicine but that doesn’t mean much because most of these professonals are naturopaths and other providers of pseudoscientific medicine.
This drug is often acquired through compounding which permits licensed pharmacists or physicians to combine ingredients to create customized drugs to meet the needs of individual patients. These drugs serve an important role in the treatment of patients who are not responding to approved drugs. However, it’s important to note that because they are not approved by the FDA, compounded drugs have never been tested for safety, effectiveness or quality.
But this all changed in 2012 when a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis due to contaminated injectable drug products from a compounding pharmacy resulted in the death of 60 people and infected another 750.
In response, Congress and the FDA moved to develop a list of approved substances that could be used in compounding.
“Naturally, if you will, the FDA’s action was met with some consternation among naturopaths, who like to whip up concoctions of unproven remedies and inject their patients with them, sometimes with disastrous results,” writes SBM’s Jann Belamy earlier this month.
For example, Belamy cites the tragic death of 30-year-old Jade Erick, who was given a turmeric injection by a naturopath and died as a result.
This is why crackdowns such as this latest effort against CsCl are so needed.
“The use of cesium poses significant safety risks (e.g., heart toxicity) and is potentially associated with death,” the FDA reports. “These events can occur with oral administration and/or injection. This raises serious concerns about its use in compounding. Therefore, FDA has decided to move CsCl to the category of substances that present significant safety risks in compounding. Consumers, patients, and health care professionals should be aware of the significant potential health risks from cesium.”
It is hoped that these steps will eliminate the reckless use of this drug by alternative practitioners.
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