WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A Pennsylvania man who persuaded desperate pet owners that he could help cure their dogs’ cancer was convicted by a federal jury of wire fraud and interstate shipment of misbranded animal drugs.
Jonathan Nyce, 73, of Collegeville, Pa., was charged in February 2020 in a years-long scheme to defraud pet owners by falsely claiming to sell canine cancer-curing drugs, according to U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero.
Starting in 2012, his indictment alleged, he received more than $1 million in payments from 900 pet owners through several companies, including “Canine Care,” “ACGT” and “CAGT.”
Nyce marketed these “cancer-curing” medications to desperate pet owners, using the drug names “Tumexal” and “Naturasone,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
His websites claimed that “Tumexal is effective against a wide variety of cancers,” and “will almost always restore a cancer-stricken dog’s appetite, spirit and energy!”
The DOJ said the drugs were, instead, a collection of bulk ingredients blended by the defendant.
“When beloved pets become sick, caring owners look for treatments that can offer hope to keep their pet alive and comfortable,” Romero said in a DOJ news release. “Jonathan Nyce took advantage of that bond between pet and owner by defrauding customers and giving them false hope that they might be able to save their dying pet. That is both cruel and illegal, and we hope this verdict brings his victims a small measure of justice for their suffering.”
Nyce induced owners of terminally ill dogs to pay him hundreds or thousands of dollars for the drugs via email and telephone conversations, according to the DOJ. He also told prospective customers that their pets could become part of clinical trials if they paid him large sums of money, the DOJ statement said.
The marketing, sale and shipment of these drugs violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the drugs were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Nyce also falsely claimed in promotional materials that the FDA helped fund his company’s research, according to the DOJ.
“The FDA’s animal drug approval process ensures that our pets receive safe and effective products. Ignoring the FDA’s requirements and selling unapproved drugs to vulnerable U.S. consumers will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent George Scavdis of the FDA's Metro Washington Field Office. “We will aggressively pursue and bring to justice those criminals who place profits above the health and safety of animal patients."
The case was investigated by the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations with assistance from the Consumer Protection Branch of the DOJ.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on dog cancer treatment.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice, news release, Dec. 23, 2022