Oh, for the Love of…A Swine Flu Scam??

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My family is in week three of a nasty battle with H1N1, or Swine flu. The docs don’t know for sure without testing which bug it is, but they’re saying that most of the patients with these symptoms have swine flu, not the usual seasonal flu.

All of my kids except one have had it, but so far, Her Hotness and I have stayed clean. We’re hoping it stays that way. It’s draining our schools and churches here, with health officials surprised that it is hitting so hard, so early in the season. That means you have a lot of people sick, worried about getting sick, and ready to pay to avoid it.

And of course, that only means one thing: it’s a scammer’s market ready for the reaping!

Are we appalled? Yes. Are we surprised? We are not. Check out the story:

Federal officials have warned promoters of more than 140 products sold over the Internet about fraudulent claims that they can prevent, treat or diagnose swine flu.
Bogus products include devices and sprays that claim to sterilize the air or surfaces, and dietary supplements claiming to boost the immune system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it even has found fake Tamiflu being sold online without a prescription.

Want to have a look at some of the scammy products? Just Google “swine flu” and look at the sponsored search results. Chances are good that you’ll spot the products making false claims. Check out Microsan, for instance, at stop-h1n1.com. See the fear-stoking headlines at the top? They’re designed to prod you into a quick purchase before your critical thinking skills kick in.

The problem is bad enough that the FDA created a Swine Flu consumer fraud detection team, which spotted about 10 new product a day being promoted. All of them were making untested, unproven claims, and some of the products were downright dangerous. Check out the useful warnings at the FDA:

On May 1, 2009, FDA and the FTC warned that consumers who purchase products which claim to protect against or treat the 2009 H1N1 virus, but are not approved by FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza, are risking their health and the health of their families.

These fraudulent products come in all varieties and could include dietary supplements, medical foods, or products that claim to prevent or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza.

FDA announced that it has initiated an aggressive strategy to identify, investigate, and take regulatory or criminal action against individuals and businesses that wrongfully promote purported 2009 H1N1 influenza products in an attempt to take advantage of the current flu public health emergency.

Full disclosure: we won’t be testing any of these products. Maybe we could get Steve to inject or ingest an unknown substance purchased online, but it won’t be me. The flu sucks, but so do the potential hazards of swallowing something made in Albania with misspelled English words on the label.

For real information on Swine Flu, look to the Centers for Disease Control. Wash your hands often and don’t make out with strangers on the bus or subway without a surgical mask.

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4 Comments

  1. Carolyn, is that true?? No clinical trials on vaccines? Then how do they justify urging everyone to get it?

    I’m sick today and popping Vitamin C. Should I add ground garlic to the mixture? (And I’m guessing there are no clinical trials about that, either.)

    Reply
  2. Steve,
    Interesting post on the H1N1 virus. So sorry to hear you’re family has had to suffer with it and sadly that scammers are looking to make a buck off of it. Having said that, please don’t discount the benefit of some natural supplements to boost your immune system. Things like garlic and Aloe have natural anti-viral properties in them. The majority of prescription drugs come from herbs or plants found in nature. In addition realize that not only have some of these companies not run clinical trials on these supplements, the FDA has not run clinical trials on the vaccines yet GSK and Novartis will be making billions from the vaccines. Having spent 11 years in the pharmaceutical industry I can tell you that some of the biggest scammers are the industry itself where bottom line profits take precedence over the safety of people. Remember Vioxx, need I say more?

    Reply
  3. Deborah-

    Just an FYI, Joe wrote this post and my significant other likes to go by the name ‘Queen Ruler Supreme.’

    Steve

    Reply
  4. Steve, you and your company constantly amaze me and while I have not availed myself of all of your opportunities for no other reason but my health, I do religiously read your daily email.

    I cannot tell you how disgusted I am by this scam but like you and her hotness (great name)I am mot surprised. I fully expect to be getting emails from friends of mine who are less informed and believe if it is on the internet then it must be true!

    Thank you once again for pointing out the obvious in this scam and now I am prepared!

    “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”~Coco Chanel

    Reply

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