During the worst flu season in years, FDA is warning consumers about fraudulent and counterfeit flu and antiviral products from online pharmacies.
“This year the flu has been widespread, impacting millions of patients across the country, and leading to a new record number of flu-related hospitalizations,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a statement from FDA “As the flu continues to make people sick — and even cause deaths — unscrupulous actors may also be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective.”
To that end, FDA is advising consumers on some of the telltale signs to look for when trying to spot flu products that may be fraudulent.
“Consumers should be aware that there are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu. Products sold online are fraudulent if they claim to prevent, treat or cure the flu, and have not been evaluated by the FDA for that intended use,” FDA said.
Online pharmacies may claim to sell prescription antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, at reduced prices or without a prescription, and FDA advises consumers to avoid purchasing products making such claims.
“Legitimate online pharmacies exist, but so do many websites that look like professional and legitimate pharmacies, but are actually fraudulent,” FDA said. “The FDA recommends consumers buy prescription drugs from their local pharmacy or only through an online pharmacy that requires a valid prescription from a doctor or other authorized health care professional and is licensed by the state board of pharmacy (or equivalent state agency) where the patient is located.”
The following flu claims may indicate that an OTC product is fraudulent, according to FDA:
- Reduces severity and length of the flu.
- Boosts your immunity naturally without a flu shot.
- Safe and effective alternative to the flu vaccine.
- Prevents catching the flu.
- Effective treatment for the flu.
- Faster recovery from the flu.
- Supports your body's natural immune defenses to fight off the fllu.