Ukrain (Ukrainian: Україн; also called celandine) is the trademarked name of a semi-synthetic substance derived from the plant Chelidonium majus and promoted as a drug to treat cancer and viral infections, including HIV and hepatitis.[3][4] It was created in 1978, by a Ukrainian chemist Vasyl Novytskyi (Ukrainian: Василь Новицький). Ukrain is named after the nation of Ukraine and is produced by the Austrian company Nowicky Pharma.

The chemical structure of ukrain claimed by the manufacturer could not be determined in independent studies.[1][2]
Combination of
Chelidonium majusalkaloids
thiophosphoric triaciridide acidchemical compound
Clinical data
Other namescelandine
Routes of
intravenous and intramuscular
Legal status
Legal status
  • US: Not FDA approved
  • Not recommended for cancer treatment
CAS Number
PubChem CID
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass1303.384g/mol g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)

According to the American Cancer Society and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, there is no evidence that Ukrain is an effective cancer treatment.


In 2005, Edzard Ernst led a review into evidence of the effectiveness of Ukrain. Although the review found evidence suggesting the drug was effective, it also concluded that "numerous caveats prevent a positive conclusion".[5] Commenting on the review some years later, Ernst wrote on his blog that the results they were examining had seemed "too good to be true"  and on investigation the trials were very small in size, often seemed to include Novytskyi himself, and had significant methodological flaws. However, despite the cautious conclusion given, "this article became much cited. ... [Novytskyi] must have been delighted".[4]

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center say that clinical trials have yet to prove safety and effectiveness of Ukrain.[6] The American Cancer Society stated that, as of 2013, "available scientific evidence does not support claims that celandine is effective in treating cancer in humans".[3] It may however be responsible for some adverse side-effects including hepatitis and allergic skin reactions.[3]

Ukrain is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.[6] On September 4, 2012, several people including Vasyl Novytskyi, the drug's developer, were arrested in Austria for distributing the drug under suspicion of commercial fraud.[4][7] Novytskyi appeared in Vienna regional court again in January 2015 for selling Ukrain, earning an estimated 1.1 million euros through fraud by changing labels on expired vials.[8] In March 2015, two co-defendants of Novytskyi were exonerated for commercial fraud, while legal proceedings continue for Novytskyi.[9]

From October 2013 to April 2014, a licensed naturopath in Tucson, Arizona, Michael Uzick, was using Ukrain in his practice to treat cancer patients. He was reported to the Arizona authorities by Britt Marie Hermes, who discovered while working for Uzick that the unapproved drug was being imported.[10] Uzick was given a letter of reprimand by the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board.[10][11]

See also


  1. Habermehl D, Kammerer B, Handrick R, Eldh T, Gruber C, Cordes N, et al. (January 2006). "Proapoptotic activity of Ukrain is based on Chelidonium majus L. alkaloids and mediated via a mitochondrial death pathway". BMC Cancer. 6: 14. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-14. PMC 1379651. PMID 16417634.
  2. Panzer A, Joubert AM, Eloff JN, Albrecht CF, Erasmus E, Seegers JC (November 2000). "Chemical analyses of Ukrain, a semi-synthetic Chelidonium majus alkaloid derivative, fail to confirm its trimeric structure". Cancer Letters. 160 (2): 237–41. doi:10.1016/s0304-3835(00)00595-4. PMID 11053654.
  3. "Celandine". American Cancer Society. August 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  4. Ernst E (14 October 2012). "A telling story about "alternative" cancer cures and their purveyors". Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  5. Ernst E, Schmidt K (July 2005). "Ukrain - a new cancer cure? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials". BMC Cancer. 5: 69. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-5-69. PMC 1180428. PMID 15992405.
  6. "Ukrain". Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  7. "Krebskranke getäuscht: Festnahmen" [Cancer sufferer deceived: arrests]. (in German). 4 September 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  8. "Ukrainian chemist lands in court for cancer 'cure'". The Local. 28 Jan 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  9. "Mitangeklagte in Prozess um angebliches Krebs-Heilmittel freigesprochen" [Co-defendant acquitted in trial for alleged cancer remedy]. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  10. Thielking M (20 October 2016). "'Essentially witchcraft:' A former naturopath takes on the field". STAT. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  11. "Dr. Michael Uzick Disciplinary Actions". Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
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