Published October 23, 2012
When we’re sick, in pain or want to improve our health, we all want a quick fix, but experts warn that medicines that make promises that sound too good to be true, probably are.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, fight old age or cure diseases, there are fake pharmacies and companies hawking pills and products with unfounded and dishonest claims. These unscrupulous companies peddle drugs that not only waste your money, but put your health at risk.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, health scams are products that claim to prevent, treat or cure diseases and health conditions but haven’t been proven safe and effective. The drugs tout to cure a variety of ailments, but typically target diseases including cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and arthritis.
Scams are also prevalent in the weight-loss market with dietary supplements and the beauty market with anti-aging treatments and diagnostic testing. The FDA labels the diagnostic tests as particularly brazen because the results are often slanted to get users to buy another product.
The scams often prey on people who are desperate or are looking for a magic or quick fix for their ailment and not only drain their wallets, but put their health at risk.
According to the FDA, people who rely on these bogus products often delay getting a proper diagnosis and treatment which could be detrimental to their health. Taking fake dietary supplements can also be harmful. The FDA says many contain hidden illegal drugs and chemicals that can cause harm and have been found in supplements for weight-loss supplements, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding supplements.
Trying to identify legal pharmacies and legitimate drugs and supplements can be hard, but there are red flags to look for.
The FDA says to be wary of any products that claim quick fixes, miracle cures, have “special” ingredients that are a “scientific breakthrough.” Doctor’s testimonials are also suspect, with the FDA warning testimonials by “real people” or doctors played by actors should never replace scientific data.
While fake medical products are the No.1 health scam, buying medicine online can also be dangerous. Although there are countless legitimate online pharmacies, the market is also full of fake ones hawking unapproved drugs to unwitting consumers. The counterfeit pharmacies use online ads and email offers of drugs at a low cost without a prescription to entice consumers, but many are shams designed to steal your credit card information or download spyware.
Buying drugs from these illegal Internet pharmacies can put your health at risk because they aren’t regulated and can be the wrong dosage or contain erroneous ingredients.
Earlier this month, the FDA U took action against more than 4,100 pharmacies which were illegally selling everything from Domperidone, which was removed from the U.S. market in 1998 to “generic Tamiflu” which is an unapproved generic version of the flu medicine Tamiflu.
According to the FDA the best way to protect yourself is to see a doctor before buying any prescription medicine online. Ask the doctor about any side effects of a medicine and how it will react with medications you are already taking. Never start a new treatment without first seeing your doctor, and if you have a prescription and want to fill it online ask for a recommendation from your health-care provider or got to one that is well known and FDA approved.