FDA warns of unapproved, fraudulent flu medications

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sounding the alarm on fraudulent and unapproved flu products.

According to the FDA, this year’s severe flu season has the potential for consumers to get lured into buying unproven or even counterfeit flu treatments from websites that appear to be legitimate pharmacies.

“This year the flu has been widespread, impacting millions of patients across the country, and leading to a new record number of flu-related hospitalizations,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “We understand the toll this year’s flu season has taken on peoples’ lives. As the flu continues to make people sick — and even cause deaths — unscrupulous actors may also be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective. The FDA is warning consumers to be alert, and try and steer clear of fraudulent flu products, which may be found online or in retail stores. We’re advising consumers on some of the telltale signs to look for when trying to spot flu products that may be fraudulent. All of us must also continue to be diligent in doing our part to prevent the spread of flu however possible. People who are sick with flu-like symptoms and those who are at high risk of serious flu complications should see a health care professional as soon as possible to see if they should be treated with antiviral drugs.”

There are no legally-marketed over-the-counter drugs that prevent or cure the flu, according to the FDA. However, there are legal OTC remedies that can help with symptoms. Any products claiming to prevent, treat or cure the have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Some online “pharmacies” may claim to sell prescription medications, like Tamiflu, at cheap rates and without a prescription. The FDA encourages consumers to avoid such online pharmacies.

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