JAVMA News logo

April 01, 2020

Man accused of selling fake cancer cures, preying on grieving dog owners

Published on March 11, 2020

A drug researcher previously convicted of killing his wife is now accused of selling fraudulent treatments for canine cancer.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said Jonathan Nyce, PhD, gave people false hope they could save dogs that were part of their families.

“That is both cruel and illegal, and now the defendant will face the consequences,” McSwain said in an announcement.

In 2005, a jury convicted Dr. Nyce of manslaughter for killing his wife at their home in New Jersey, according to court documents and reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Prosecutors now accuse the 70-year-old of creating at least three companies since 2012 to market unproven ingredient combinations as cancer treatments and charging owners of terminally ill dogs hundreds to thousands of dollars. At least one pet owner paid more than $5,000, according to a Feb. 4 announcement from federal prosecutors.

Department of Justice officials said the treatments, sold under the names Tumexal and Naturasone, contained collections of bulk ingredients Dr. Nyce blended himself at a facility in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Nyce is accused of falsely claiming Tumexal was effective against “a wide variety of cancers” and restored a dog’s appetite, spirit, and energy.

Prosecutors said Dr. Nyce sometimes elicited large sums with promises the dogs would participate in clinical trials and made false claims that the Food and Drug Administration funded his research.

The indictment filed against Dr. Nyce states that he is accused of wire fraud and selling misbranded drugs. The prosecutors’ announcement states that the maximum penalty is 32 years in prison.

The New York Times reported in 2004 that Dr. Nyce had completed his thesis on colon cancer in 1983 and earned a doctorate from a cancer research institute at Temple University in Philadelphia. He became a professor at East Carolina University in Greenville before founding EpiGenesis Pharmaceuticals in 1995 to focus on creating a treatment for asthma.

The Inquirer reported in February that a jury convicted Dr. Nyce of manslaughter in the 2004 death of his wife, Michelle. State prosecutors said Nyce beat her to death in the garage of their home in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, although he wrote a book in which he maintained his innocence, the Inquirer reported.