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FDA warns of 'flu relief fraud'

There are no legally marketed OTC drugs to prevent or cure flu

WASHINGTON | February 4, 2013

"These unproven products give consumers a false sense of security"

— Mary Malarkey

U.S. officials warn consumers to steer clear of fraudulent flu products -- so-called flu vaccine alternatives -- claiming to prevent or cure the flu.

"As any health threat emerges, fraudulent products appear almost overnight," Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator, said in a statement. "Right now, so-called 'alternatives' to the flu vaccine are big with scammers."

These flu claims on an unapproved product indicate that it might be fraudulent:

-- Reduces severity and length of flu.

-- Boosts immunity naturally without a flu shot.

-- Safe and effective alternative to flu vaccine.

-- Prevents catching the flu.

-- Effective treatment for flu.

-- Faster recovery from flu.

-- Supports your body's natural immune defenses to fight off flu.

There are no legally marketed over-the-counter drugs to prevent or cure the flu, but there are legal products to reduce fever and to relieve muscle aches, congestion and other symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration said.

For example, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission sent a warning letter to the company that markets "GermBullet," a nasal inhaler that makes flu prevention and treatment claims, Coody said.

"These unproven products give consumers a false sense of security," said 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."

"To find a list of clinics, supermarkets, pharmacies and other vaccine providers in your neighborhood, visit www.flu.gov, click on Flu Vaccine Finder and enter your zip code," Malarkey said.

2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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