JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- FDA is warning consumers to steer clear of fraudulent flu products, which can be found online and in retail stores and may include products marketed as dietary supplements or conventional foods, drugs, nasal sprays and devices.
"As any health threat emerges, fraudulent products appear almost overnight," says Gary Coody, R.Ph., FDA's national health fraud coordinator. "Right now, so-called 'alternatives' to the flu vaccine are big with scammers."
"These unproven products give consumers a false sense of security," says Mary Malarkey, director of FDA's Office of Compliance and Biologics Quality. "There is no need to buy a product that claims to be an alternative to the vaccine. Flu vaccine is still available and it's not too late to get vaccinated."
There are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu. However, there are legal OTC products to reduce fever and to relieve muscle aches, congestion, and other symptoms typically associated with the flu.
But unapproved drugs are fraudulent if they make flu prevention, treatment or cure claims, says Coody, "because they haven't been evaluated by FDA for these uses."