Authorities to Investigate Wellness Company Following Cancer Death

Photo courtesy Melanie Tata

The Taichung Office of Food and Drug Safety said it will open an investigation into beauty and wellness product company Bio-Lydia (麗富康國際生技公司) following the death of a 41-year-old cancer patient who had been persuaded to switch from traditional medical treatment to the company’s products, Apple Daily reported.

Authorities said that the company may be guilty of false advertising. 28 products are being investigated for making false or exaggerated claims, including a “Super Immunity” supplement. The Office of Food and Drug Safety noted that the company could be fined between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million. The agency added that this is not the first time the company has been investigated over false or misleading claims, with the most recent investigation coming last December. The company was previously fined twice for a total of NT$80,000, according to China Times.

On February 25, the woman’s younger brother posted photos to the Facebook group Breaking News Community (爆料公社) about her sister’s death. He blamed her death on the company. When she died, she was NT$1 million in debt due to medical expenses as well as to Bio-Lydia for business and product expenses.

The brother said that his sister joined the company six years ago in Changhua. Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. He claims his sister was then introduced to people at the company who specialized in biotech products that they said could treat cancer. His sister agreed to use the company’s products while undergoing chemotherapy.

Following chemotherapy and surgery, her cancer went into remission. The woman’s colleagues praised the company’s products for curing cancer. However, the cancer returned last year. During the new round of chemotherapy, the brother claims that a company representative persuaded the woman to stop treatment and use the wellness products. The woman stopped treatment for a month and a half before succumbing to cancer.

The woman’s brother said that he hopes his sister’s story will serve as a warning for anyone looking at non-medical treatments. He doesn’t want others to fall for claims of “Cancer does not need treatment; just eating nutritious products will be good.”

Bio-Lydia is a direct marketing company that sells wellness products that have not been certified by Taiwan’s FDA. Apple Daily reported that it had contacted local staff about the products and they all said that they do not sell wellness products, but only beauty products.

This isn’t the first time a wellness product manufacturer has been accused in the death of a cancer patient. In January, an unlicensed health drink maker was fined for persuading a cancer patient to buy an expensive natural cure that had no health benefits.

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