As news about the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus continues to grab headlines and attention around the globe, it's no surprise that some shady characters are looking to cash in on public fears over the outbreak. U.S. health officials are warning consumers to be on the lookout for the online (and offline) promotion of products that promise to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure the virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that the fraudulent H1N1 treatment products being offered by scammers "come in all varieties and could include dietary supplements or other food products, or products purporting to be drugs, devices or vaccines." FDA warns consumers that these products "will not prevent the transmission of the virus or offer effective treatments against infections caused by the H1N1 influenza virus."
The FDA reminds Americans that only two antiviral medications have been approved by the agency for treatment of the H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The approved medications are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir). FDA advises consumers to "contact their health care providers or legitimate medical supply services if they have questions or concerns about medical products or personal protective equipment."
Reuters reports that the H1N1 influenza scams have included a blitz of phony websites and "spam" emails, including one scam email offering a "'Flu Safety Kit' that contains facial tissues, disinfecting wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer."