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FDA Warns of Fake Online Products that Claim to Treat Flu

Update Date: Feb 18, 2013 01:57 AM EST

The Food and Drug Administration has now warned the public about fake dietary supplements that have been promoted over the Internet as treatments for flu, according to media reports.

"Unapproved antiviral products could be contaminated or counterfeit. They could contain the wrong medications. In the past we've tested products purported to be Tamiflu and found acetaminophen alone or penicillin derivatives - and those could pose some serious problems," said Gary Coody, a pharmacist and the FDA's national health fraud coordinator, reports NBCnews. Since January, the agency has already sent out 10 warning letters to the companies that sell these drugs online.

In a letter to a company called Supplementality LLC, FDA has asked it to stop marketing these products, as they haven't been approved for use against flu.

"We request that you immediately cease marketing unapproved and uncleared products for the diagnosis, mitigation, prevention, treatment, or cure of the Flu Virus," the FDA said in the warning letter.

Then, there are companies that have received the warning letters for their use of certain wordings in advertisements that promote the drug's ability to treat flu, like Oasis Consumer Healthcare announcing the effects of its product called Halo.

In other cases, the letters were issued to companies warning them of their sale of fake versions of antiviral drugTamiflu, Reuters Health reported.

Other companies that have received the warning letters include Discount Online Pharmacy, Kosher Vitamin Express, Medsnoscript, Secure Medical Inc., Sun Drug Store, Vitamax Vitamins and University of Berkley.

"The FDA will consider whatever means are necessary to stop the marketing of fraudulent flu products to prevent them from proliferating in the marketplace - and will hold those who are responsible for doing so, accountable. This may include considering civil (seizure, injunction) or criminal (prosecution) enforcement action as appropriate," said Sarah Clark-Lynn, an FDA spokeswoman, reports NBCnews. 

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