The makers of supposed cancer-killing water Te Kiri Gold have backed down from potentially unlawful therapeutic claims after a warning from the medicines regulator.
PureCure, the company behind the product, has made assurances to Medsafe that the untested and unapproved water is no longer being sold to terminally ill cancer patients.
However, it remains possible to order Te Kiri Gold (TKG) at $100 a two-litre-bottle from the website.
The tonic, an electrolysed water which medical experts say amounts to dilute bleach, has previously been sold to terminally ill patients under the false pretense of a clinical trial.
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Following a Fairfax Media investigation into PureCure, Medsafe manager Chris James said the company was warned on April 19 that it appeared to be unlawfully supplying an unapproved medicine.
In an emailed statement, he said the makers of Te Kiri Gold indicated the sale of the product had stopped.
Medsafe have asked PureCure to inform customers the product is not a medicine.
Claims, testimonials, and links to articles featuring rugby-great Colin Meads have been expunged from the TKG website.
A previously ambiguous statement of benefit on the home page has been replaced with: “Te Kiri Gold is not a drug or medicine”.
The registration form which asked interested patients for their medical history has been removed.
Vernon Coxhead, co-director of PureCure, declined to comment for this story.
He has previously said no claims of medical benefit for the tonic were made.
Information provided to patients who enquired about the water said: “Experience suggests that the TKG begins killing cancer cells as soon as you begin ingesting it …”.
Dr Shaun Holt, a lecturer in clinical trials and natural medicine at Victoria University Wellington, who previously labelled TKG “snake-oil”, said it was a quick resolution.
“If it’s not being sold, and not being marketed, that’s a great outcome.”
Medsafe had the ability to confirm whether TKG was still being sold but often it came down to resourcing, he said.
“I hope it is resolved, but these things often don’t go away, they go underground.
“There’s other bleach waters out there. It’s probably not the end of the story. But it’s a good resolution in this particular instance.”
An authority concerned with weeding out evidence-less natural health claims would have helped, Holt said.
The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill – currently adrift in parliamentary process – would create a regulatory authority for natural health products.
The bill, which would create a ‘white-list’ of approved products, hasn’t been further realised since its second reading in Parliament in 2013.
“There were certain ingredients that would be pre-approved, if you wanted anything that was not in there, you would have to provide the evidence for it.
“Of course, bleach water would not have fulfilled that criteria,” Holt said.
Consumer NZ advisor Maggie Edwards previously said material on the site could breach the Fair Trading Act.
A spokesperson for the Commerce Commission said one complaint about Te Kiri Gold was being assessed.