- Amanda Mary Jewell, a British woman operating from Ecuador, reappeared on Facebook a few months after being banned.
- Jewell was promoting the unlicensed drug GcMAF, claiming without evidence that it can cure conditions like cancer and autism.
- Facebook previously removed her after an investigation by Business Insider, but she came back under an alias and founded a new group which grew to almost 1,500 members.
- Business Insider established that her alias — MaryJayne Watts — and Jewell are in fact that same person, though Jewell later denied knowing about Watts.
- In a July email exchange Jewell, as Watts, recommended that a woman spend more than $12,000 on GcMAF to help with severe lung cancer.
- When Facebook was alerted again to her activities, Watts’s page and the group were deleted.
- In a message to Business Insider, Jewell denied selling GcMAF, or breaking the law in any capacity.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A woman who used Facebook to advertise an unlicensed drug as a miracle cure made it back to the platform after being banned.
Amanda Mary Jewell, a British woman operating out of Ecuador, was able to rebuild part of her audience for the substance, called GcMAF, despite earlier action against her.
She was removed once more after Business Insider alerted Facebook.
Jewell made miraculous claims of GcMAF’s properties, saying that it can cure cancer and autism. In fact it has no proven medical use, and regulators in the US and UK told Business Insider that people should not use it.
Some people who used it reported painful side effects, according to evidence from a trial over the drug in the UK.
Business Insider wrote about Jewell’s activities in October 2019, at which time she was running a closed group called GcMAF Oracle with some 7,000 members, and had a personal account under her real name.
Facebook removed both after Business Insider pointed out that they broke the platform’s policies banning medical misinformation.
However, in the months that followed, Jewell reappeared on Facebook under the alias MaryJayne Watts.
She was also running another group, this time called The Healing Oracle. Before it closed it had at least 1,470 members, and was also used to promote GcMAF, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
A Business Insider investigation established that Watts and Jewell are the same person. Watts’ profile photo was an image of Jewell, and her posts described a life in Ecuador, where Jewell is based.
A number given to Business Insider for Watts was answered by a woman who identified herself as Jewell. The names of their groups and the content shared there were also near-identical.
Jewell initially answered questions about the Healing Oracle group and confirmed that she was an administrator before hanging up.
However, in response to later questions about the Watts alias, Jewell responded: “I don’t know the Watts woman.”
When Business Insider highlighted the Healing Oracle group to Facebook, it removed the group, as well as the MaryJayne Watts profile.
After the pages went down, an associate, Martin Buckwell, posted of the Watts account that “her return to Facebook has been short-lived and her profile has been removed once more.” His account was later taken down too.
‘Email for a private conversation’
While it was live, one post in the Healing Oracle group said: “If anyone is interested in immunotherapy including GcMAF and medical marujuana then please let us know.”
It was posted by Buckwell, also an administrator of the group.
“I am,” replied a dad in Australia, explaining how his partner’s breast cancer had spread to her lungs.
The man was directed to email “Mary” — the alias — for a “private conversation”.
Meanwhile Jewell was making medically dubious claims, seeking to back them up with articles from a website, also called Healing Oracle. Jewell herself has no known medical qualifications.
One said: “Here is just one example of how GcMAF cured the rarest of cancers.”
Another said: “It works amazingly well with Autism.” It linked to a post claiming that a boy with severe autism had gained the ability to speak a few days after taking the drug.
Fiona O’Leary, an autism campaigner in Ireland, said she flagged the group to Facebook twice before — in May and earlier this month — but the group remained live.
Bogus medicine flourishes in a pandemic
O’Leary — who has campaigned against medical misinformation for years — said that groups have been growing faster during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many cancer patients had their regular treatments disrupted as health services diverted their efforts to fight the coronavirus, leading more people to seek unproven treatments.
O’Leary said: “We’ve seen such a huge increase in pseudoscience in the last six months because of COVID — that has leaked into these groups for cancer, because these people want to hurry up and get better.”
The charity Cancer Research UK said that patients can be particularly vulnerable to unproven therapies they read about online.
Martin Ledwick, the group’s head information nurse, told Business Insider: “If something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.”
Emma Dalmayne — another campaigner — messaged Jewell under a pseudonym. Dalmayne shared messages with Business Insider including GcMAF price lists, and details of payments and shipping costs for the drug which Jewell emailed her.
A $12,000 course, made in Bulgaria
In the exchange, Dalmayne posed as a lung cancer patient. Jewell advised her to buy $12,000 of GcMAF vials from a supplier in Bulgaria, to be injected over the course of three months.
Jewell said that a stage 4 cancer patient should buy 36 vials at a cost of €290 each (around $340). The total cost, according to a price list Jewell sent Dalmayne, would be €10,440 or $12,300.
The emails also include instructions to pay a company called Vigor Life, with bank account details in Smolyan, a Bulgarian ski resort near the Greece-Bulgaria border where Jewell once ran a hotel.
Business Insider attempted to contact Vigor Life, but could find no evidence of a company with that name in Bulgaria.
It is not clear what relationship Jewell has with the suppliers of GcMAF. In her statement to Business Insider, she denied selling the drug.
Drug regulators say: Do not use GcMAF
The drug, the full name for which is GC protein-derived macrophage activating factor, is not approved by the UK’s MHRA regulator nor by the FDA in the US.
This means it is illegal to market it as a medicine in either country.
“GcMAF products may pose a significant risk to people’s health and [we] recommend that people do not use them,” an MHRA spokeswoman said.
“Generally a company first must show that its drug product is safe and effective before it may be marketed,” Jeremy Kahn, an FDA spokesman said.
The claims against Noakes included marketing the treatment as a cancer “cure”, making more than $10 million from its sale.
During his trial, the court heard that some of his GcMAF customers complained of side-effects, including headaches, nausea, and abdominal pain — with one requiring several trips to the hospital.
Business Insider flagged Jewell’s latest account and group to Facebook, along with posts from Buckwell’s account.
Both personal profiles and the group were subsequently taken down.
“We do not allow the sale of non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs on Facebook,” a company spokesman said.
“We have removed the group and taken action on the accounts brought to our attention,” Facebook added.
On a WhatsApp call, a woman answering a number for MaryJane Watts confirmed that she was Jewell. She denied that the Healing Oracle group belonged to her, but did confirm being an administrator.
She also claimed to have no knowledge of her personal account being removed from the platform, before hanging up.
In a later message, she wrote: “I am not selling any products from any group. Just like I am not wanted for any crime in any country.” She later wrote to deny knowing Watts, and then stopped responding to Business Insider’s messages.
Business Insider contacted Buckwell for comment, but has yet to receive a response.