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Fraud Scams


Tainted Products, Fraudulent Products for Serious Diseases


Don’t Fall for Health Fraud Scams

When you see claims like “miracle cure”, “guaranteed results” or “vaccine alternative”, what crosses your mind?

As you probably already know, a health product is fraudulent if it is promoted to treat a disease or condition, but not scientifically proven safe and effective for that purpose.

Taking advantage of people’s desires for easy solutions to difficult health problems, including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, memory loss, sexual performance, weight loss, influenza, other infectious diseases and Covid-19, is not new.

Scammers now promote their products with savvy marketing, including on social media sites and closed messaging apps.

You can increase your chances of identifying and avoiding health fraud scams by focusing on being smart, aware and careful when purchasing health care products.

What is a Health Fraud?

The FDA defines health fraud as the deceptive promotion, advertising, distribution, or sale of a product represented as being effective to prevent, diagnose, treat, cure or lessen an illness or condition, or provide another beneficial effect on health, but that has not been scientifically proven safe and effective for such purposes.

A database of unapproved products that have been subject to FDA health fraud related violations is available, and contains more than 1,939 entries. These products have been cited in warning letters, online advisory letters, recalls, public notifications, and press announcements for issues varying from products marketed as dietary supplements claiming to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease, to the use of undeclared ingredients or new dietary ingredients.

Here are some Warning Signs

One product does it all.

Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of diseases. The FDA continues to send Warning Letters and take enforcement action as appropriate against companies marketing fake cure-all products. These miracle cures do not exist, they are mostly bogus, but only good at selling false hope.

Personal “success” testimonials.

Success stories, such as, “It cured my diabetes” or “It immediately stopped my Covid-19 infection,” are often made up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence. Reviews found on popular online marketplaces and social media can be fake.

Quick fixes. 

Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, even with legitimate products. Beware of language such as, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” “protects from viral infections,” or “eliminates skin cancer in days.”

“All natural” cure or treatment.

Don’t be fooled by descriptions like “all-natural cure”, used in health fraud as an attention-grabber to suggest that a product is safer than conventional treatments. These terms do not necessarily equate to safety. Some plants found in nature (such as poisonous mushrooms) can be harmful or even kill when consumed. Numerous products promoted as “all-natural” cures or treatments contained hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription drug ingredients or other active pharmaceutical ingredients.

“Miracle cure.”

Alarms should go off when you see this claim or others like it such as, “new discovery,” “guaranteed results,” or “secret ingredient.” If a real cure for a serious disease were FDA-approved, it would be widely reported through the media and prescribed by licensed health professionals, not on advertisements in social media and messaging apps, or buried in websites, print ads, and TV infomercials.

Conspiracy theories. 

Claims like “This is the cure our government or Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about” are used to distract consumers from the obvious, common-sense questions about the so-called miracle cure.

How to Report a Health Fraud?

Reporting problems can spur action. An FDA investigator may visit the person who made the complaint, collect product samples, and initiate inspections.

MedWatch receives reports from the public, and publishes safety alerts for FDA-regulated products such as:

▪ Prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

▪ Biologics, such as blood components, blood/plasma derivatives, and gene therapies.

▪ Medical devices, such as hearing aids, breast pumps, and pacemakers.

▪ Combination products, such as pre-filled drug syringes.

▪ Special nutritional products, such as medical foods, and infant formulas.

▪ Cosmetics, such as moisturizers, makeup, shampoos, hair dyes, and tattoos.

▪ Food, such as beverages, and ingredients added to foods.

Adverse events associated with dietary supplements, any tobacco product, pet food or pet treats, and livestock food, should be reported via the online Safety Reporting Portal.

Consumers can also report problems to the Consumer Complaint Coordinators for their geographic region.

Health fraud drug products are articles of unproven effectiveness that claim to treat disease or improve health

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