Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Flu Fakes
Flu season has taken on new concern this year with worry over H1N1, and that has lead to the creation of new products that make some major claims, but can your believe them? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks. People are lining up, clamoring for H1N1 flu shots, doing all they can to avoid getting sick, but how about drinking this herbal tea or using a special shampoo or waving a light wand to kill flu germs? Our investigation found some profiteers are cashing in on flu fears, pushing products like these they claim will keep you healthy. Federal officials says the claims are not only bogus, but illegal.
Richard Cleland, Federal Trade Commission: "They don't help people. They steal their money and endanger their health."
Look at this website for that herbal tea. It claims to prevent H1N1 and can even make a difference in curing it. Health officials say no way.
Richard Cleland: "That is a consumer rip off."
On this website the ad reads: Protect yourself now from the swine flu and for $10 it says you can buy bottles of these pills called swine flu antiviral support tablets. Federal health officials say there's no such thing.
Gary Cody, Food and Drug Administration: "It makes me angry."
We found more flu fakery, like an anti flu shampoo. Feds say a site claimed the shampoo works because the swine flu virus is airborne it may settle on your hair. That's not true.
How about this: A sanitizing UV light wand you're supposed to wave over surfaces in your house, the ad said it can destroy a number of viruses including swine flu. The feds say that doesn't work, and we found ads for inhalers, gloves, air purifiers, herbal extracts all making claims they'll help you. The government says they will not, so federal investigators now are slapping companies with orders to stop.
This list shows more than 70 companies, now put on notice to cease marketing the unapproved, uncleared or unauthorized products.
Gary Cody: Some of these products can in themselves be harmful and can cause adverse effects in people."
Not only do they not work, no one knows what's in the products. So, using them is not only risky, but deters you from doing what will help.
Problem is we found there may be flu fraud even with products you think are approved. Some people thought they were buying Tamiflu, a flu remedy OK'd by the FDA, but federal investigators showed us these pills sold as Tamiflu and purchased online.
These the FDA analyzed and the pills only contain acetaminophen and talc, no flu medicine at all.
Gary Cody: "Consumers should be very cautious and very suspicious of any prescription drugs, especially ones that are sold without a prescription, on the internet."
Carmel Cafiero: "The government says most of the websites it warned took down their false claims, but there are new ones popping up every day."
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