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FDA Warns of Online Coronavirus Scammers Selling False Treatments

— November 12, 2020

Federal agency warns of dangerous and ineffective online coronavirus treatments.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously warned of false and unauthorized coronavirus tests that can be taken and processed at home.  Now, it is making consumers aware of fake vaccines and treatments being sold online. The FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have both issued several warning letters to companies selling these products, which are being marketed to cure, treat and prevent COVID-19.  Some of the ways in which these scammers are claiming the coronavirus can be prevented or treated include by the use of oils, supplements, powders and other bogus remedies.

“It’s sad, it’s tragic and it’s dangerous,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, the medical director at the Pittsburgh Poison Center.

Not only are these fake cures unapproved, the FDA warned they could be hazardous to one’s health.  Some of the ingredients in the products are exclusively marketed for “veterinary” or “research” use only, and the agency found reports of consuming chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used to descale fish tanks.

FDA Warns of Online Coronavirus Scammers Selling False Treatments
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

“There are all sorts of herbals that are used in teas which can cause liver disease, for instance, or other toxicities or seizures,” said Dr. Lynch. “We know about a couple who died in March because of exposure to fish tank chloroquine products because they were trying to take it to treat coronavirus and died from toxicity…Currently, Remdesivir is the only non-emergency FDA approved treatment for coronavirus, which seemed to shorten the duration of illness and the time people spent in the hospital.”

The release indicates, “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm.  It’s likely that the products do not do what they claim, and the ingredients in them could cause adverse effects and could interact with, and potentially interfere with, essential medications…You will risk unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or not getting treated appropriately if you use an unauthorized test.”

It also reiterates there is currently no approved vaccine for COVID-19 and any contrary statements are false.  Research is still ongoing.  The release states, “The FDA is working with vaccine and drug manufacturers to develop new vaccines for and find more drugs to treat COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Meanwhile, some people and companies are trying to profit from this pandemic by selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims, such as being effective against the coronavirus.”

For consumers who have come across these scam, the FDA is advising they “be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases; personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.; few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a ‘quick fix.’; If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. ‘miracle cures,’ which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.’  Know that you can’t test yourself for coronavirus disease.”

Consumers who believe they may have contracted the virus can get tested at an approved site and should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s guidelines.


FDA Warns Of Bogus Coronavirus Vaccines And Treatments Being Sold Online

Beware of Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines and Treatments

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