TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- As flu season continues, fraudulent flu products abound, including dietary supplements or conventional foods, drugs, nasal sprays, and devices marketed with unsubstantiated claims about being able to prevent, treat, and cure the flu, according to a report published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Noting that there are no legally-marketed over-the-counter medications that can prevent or cure flu, the FDA warns consumers to avoid products which claim to do so.
According to the report, fraudulent flu products include dietary supplemental and conventional foods or devices available online or in retail stores that make flu prevention, treatment, or cure claims. In addition, online pharmacies may be selling unapproved drugs, including generic Tamiflu or Relenza; there are no FDA-approved generic versions of these drugs. Deep price discounts are often indicative of fraudulent or illegal pharmacies. The FDA recommends that patients check with health care providers before purchasing unproven or little known treatments. Prescription medication treatment options for the flu are limited to FDA-approved Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir).
"As any health threat emerges, fraudulent products appear almost overnight," Gary Coody, R.Ph., the FDA's national health fraud coordinator, said in a statement. "Right now, so-called 'alternatives' to the flu vaccine are big with scammers."