Prosecutors in Shanghai say a man and his son arrested for selling fake medicine online had no formal training or knowledge before setting up a “biomedical firm” three years ago and creating an elixir that they claimed was a cure for cancer.

The pair allegedly cooked Chinese medicine and sold it online with 13 other accomplices, they said.

In October 2016, the prime suspect, surnamed Tang, and his son, surnamed Wu, set up the firm in an unknown location to create Chinese herbal medicine to cure cancer, the Paper reported, citing information from the prosecutors’ office.

But a prosecutor said Tang had no medical knowledge and allegedly did not consult any biomedical professionals about making drugs. It was learned that he made two drugs for sale online – one was a supposed anti-cancer drug made with extracts from some unknown herbs, while the other was a solution for supposedly curing viral infections, excluding AIDS or hepatitis B.

In October 2018, Tang opened a clinic specializing in Chinese medicine and forced the hired practitioners to help sell his two products.

Tang was also accused of threatening his customers not to consult other doctors if they were taking his medicines.

But within five months police had arrested Tang and Wu, along with 13 others who were identified as investors, medical practitioners, salespeople, and workers.

Laboratory tests could not identify the exact herbs involved in the “anti-cancer” drug but authorities said the solution was 99.8% distilled water, with 0.2% insoluble impurities.

Nine of those arrested have been charged with selling illicit drugs, while the investigation continues.