Beware: Don't Fall for Fake Flu Treatments

FDA issues warning for unapproved over-the-counter flu treatments

(RxWiki News) Flu season is here, and health experts are warning consumers about fake flu treatments.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers about fraudulent flu treatments. The agency advised consumers to be alert and smart about unapproved over-the-counter (OTC) products claiming to prevent, treat or cure the flu.

In fact, these products may even be dangerous because they have not been studied or approved for safety and effectiveness.

Furthermore, the FDA noted that relying on these products may delay or prevent you from getting the appropriate medical care.

The FDA noted that these fraudulent products may be found online and in retail stores as devices (air filters and light therapies), dietary supplements, foods, hand sanitizers and nasal sprays.

Consumers may also come across products that claim to prevent or treat other viral infections, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the FDA.

The FDA listed the following claims that may indicate that an OTC product is fraudulent:

  • Reduces severity and length of the flu
  • Boosts your immunity naturally without a flu shot
  • An alternative to the flu vaccine that is safe and effective
  • Prevents catching the flu
  • A faster recovery and effective treatment for the flu
  • Supports your body's natural immune defenses to fight off the flu

The FDA noted that there are no legally marketed OTC drugs to prevent or cure the flu.

There are, however, medications called antivirals that help relieve symptoms associated with the flu. However, these antivirals are not sold OTC. Instead, they require a prescription from a doctor.

Antivirals are different from antibiotics because antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections — not viral infections. Antivirals can make your illness less severe and reduce the number of days you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications.

Some of these antivirals are even approved to prevent the flu if you are exposed to the flu virus.

For more information on approved medications to treat the flu, check out "You Have the Flu — Now What?"

Also, some approved OTC drugs can help manage flu symptoms like fever, body aches and congestion, among other flu symptoms.

The FDA still recommended getting a flu vaccine. This is the best way to prevent the flu and related complications. Everyone ages 6 months and older is advised to get the flu vaccine.

If you have flu-like symptoms or are at high risk of serious flu complications, seek medical attention from a health care provider.

Last Updated:
November 24, 2020