The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued a warning to the public about online and retail shops that are selling such products, advising people to steer clear of them.
As soon as a health threat appears, scammers quickly try and sell their fraudulent products to a desperate public. With the severity of this year´s influenza, there is a growing number of alternatives to the flu vaccine that keep popping up. These unproven products are often marketed as nasal sprays, drugs or dietary supplements.
According to the FDA, the following claims are big indicators that the product being sold is fraudulent:
- Boosts natural immunity to the flu
- Prevents catching the flu
- Speeds up recovery
- Effective and safe alternative to the flu vaccine
In 2009, the FDA warned about fraudulent swine flu products. They especially advised people to look out for web sites that claimed to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, cure and treat swine flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that all people above the age of 6 months be vaccinated. A new flu shot called Flublok was recently approved by the FDA for prevention of seasonal flu among people ages 18-49.
The director of FDA's Office of Compliance and Biologics Quality said:
"These unproven products give consumers a false sense of security. There is no need to buy a product that claims to be an alternative to the vaccine. Flu vaccine is still available and it's not too late to get vaccinated."
Tamiflu and Relenza are FDA approved drugs that are effective in alleviating symptoms of the flu and speeding up the recovery process. However, there are many unapproved drugs which continue to emerge, amid claims that they are just as effective as the approved prescription drugs.
Online pharmacies often sell ineffective drugsThe FDA also warns about online pharmacies that are selling unapproved generic versions of antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza.
Connie Jung, R.Ph., Ph.D., of FDA's Office of Drug Security added:
"With unapproved products, you really don't know what you're getting and can't be sure of the quality. The products could be counterfeit, contaminated, or have the wrong active ingredient or no active ingredient. You could experience a bad reaction, or not receive the drug you need to get better."
The report emphasizes the importance of checking treatment options with a health care provider in order to ensure that the product is legitimate and effective.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist