FTC says Fort Myers company deceptively targeted cancer patients

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:

A company that marketed dietary supplements to help cancer patients experiencing brain fog and malnutrition after chemo-therapy has been barred by a federal court order from making those claims.

The Federal Trade Commission first began investigating CellMark Biopharma and an affiliated company Lexium International in May 2016.

Judge John Steele signed an order Friday, barring CellMark from engaging in deceptive advertising relating to the products Cognify and CellAssure.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Cognify was marketed online and in Youtube testimonials as a way to help “chemo fog”, memory issues experienced by people going through chemotherapy.

CellAssure is a medical nutrition drink that was marketed to treat cachexia, a wasting syndrome associated with cancer treatment.

β€œThey said (CellAssure) could actually help decrease tumors. They also claimed they could alleviate malnutrition associated with cancer treatment,” said Carolyn Hann, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission.

CellMark BioPharma changed its name to Axiom Biopharma in January 2017. The business filing for Axiom is still active but no one from the company could be reached for comment.
The Fort Myers office space that still shows the CellMark name on its signage was empty Friday. The space across the hall where Lexium was once located was also empty.

The former CEO for both Lexium and CellMark, Derek Vest, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in August for mislabeling other dietary supplements.

Both companies and Vest were first the subject of a WINK News investigation in February 2017.

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