How to Spot Scam Health Products

FDA warns about false claims related to health products

(RxWiki News) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers about fake and even possibly harmful products.

Thanks to the rise of social media and targeted online advertising, it has become easier to come across these products in recent years.

According to the FDA, the next time you are browsing the internet, one of the best ways to protect yourself from these products is to ask yourself the following:

  1. Whether the claim sounds "too good to be true"
  2. Whether the claim contradicts what you’ve heard from reputable sources

The FDA continues to send warning letters to companies that are selling potentially dangerous products. These products range from COVID-19 treatments and to sexual performance products to weight loss products and treatments for rare diseases.

These problematic products often contain undisclosed or hidden prescription medication. The problem? The hidden active drug ingredients in these products can present significant health risks to patients with certain medical conditions. Furthermore, the hidden ingredients can interact with medications you are taking. In turn, this can be dangerous and can even lead to death.

Some of these products claim to treat to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or other health conditions but are not proven safe and effective for those uses. Not only can they cause serious or even fatal injuries, but they can lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment.

Companies selling and marketing products like this are likely violating federal law, according to the FDA.

Look for these claims to better identify scam products:

1. Claiming to be a “miracle cure.” Other claims may include “guaranteed results” or “vaccine alternative.” These are often products that are "too good to be true."

These companies have resorted to preying on those looking for a solution to difficult health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, memory loss, sexual performance, weight loss and infectious diseases (COVID-19, the flu and others).

2. Claiming to treat a wide range of diseases. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a treatment that cures multiple illnesses.

3. Personal "success" stories. These stories are easy to fake, especially on online marketplaces and on social media. These stories may look like, "It cured my diabetes” or "This product immediately stopped my COVID-19 infection."

4. Claiming to be a "quick fix." Many conditions and diseases take time to be treated even with an approved treatment. Don't fall for this marketing ploy. An example may be "lose 20 pounds in 20 days."

5. An "all natural” treatment or cure. This language is included on purpose to grab your attention and suggest it is a safer alternative than what is the standard treatment. But don't be fooled. All natural doesn't necessarily mean it is safer. Many of these plants and herbs can actually be dangerous. Plus, the FDA has found that some products claiming to be "all natural" contain hidden ingredients (prescription ingredients or other pharmaceutical ingredients) at high doses. In some cases, the FDA has found ingredients that have been taken off the market for safety reasons.

These products are being marketed on the internet, email, newspapers, magazines, TV and even through direct mail, according to the FDA. These scams can be seen on social media, as well as on closed messaging apps (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger).

These products can be found in convenience stores, flea markets, gas stations and nontraditional stores.

Fraudulent products may not always be easy to identify as a scam. If you are looking to buy a product and have any questions, check with your healthcare provider before you buy.

Last Updated:
September 16, 2022