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Buyer beware

Seven On Your Side
October 13, 2009 3:25:55 PM PDT
Along with the concern about Swine Flu and the roll-out of the Swine Flu shots, also come a lot of bogus claims. People who don't like shots might be tempted to try these quick fixes. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says, buyer beware.

We went undercover in herbal shops in Chinatown. When we asked for products that would stop the H1N1 virus, a clerk offered us two.

The store employee offered us Yin chiao herbal supplement tablet. Yin chiao contains honeysuckle and forsythia and in traditional Chinese medicine is used to cure the common cold. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and even warns on its own box that it's not intended to cure or prevent any disease.

At another herbal shop we were told red ginseng would keep us from getting the swine flu.

And while ginseng has been used to treat stress and boost the immune system, its benefits have not been proven and the FDA warns against possibly dangerous insecticides in the unregulated liquid.

And look at what you can find on-line: "Stop Swine flu in its tracks" or "eliminate the swine flu virus from your system." These are just a couple of the many claims rampant on the internet. But do they work?

"Unfortunately, they prey on people's fears often times during a public health emergency." Alyson Saben is one of the top cops working for the government agency that investigates these products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The F.D.A. found one product that claimed to detoxify your body with an electrical stimulus machine for a mere $2995. Saben says claims like that got the FDA'S attention. "We've issued more than 70 warnings to websites to stop selling more than 135 products with fraudulent claims."

The FDA cautions most of these sites that make outrageous claims are bogus or even worse. "Actually they could cause additional harm because they could cause a person to delay medical treatment or give them a false sense of protection."

The FDA offers these red flags: If a product offers to be a cure-all for multiple illnesses, if it claims the government endorses it, or if it claims to provide instant relief, be suspicious.

"If they have any doubt about whether these products are legitimate or sale or effective, they should consult a medical professional," says Ms. Saben.

Government list of bogus swine flu products

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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