- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions Americans not to trust all-too-common bogus health products. Besides wasting your money, they can be unsafe and harmful. Using these so-called health remedies can cause major consequences — including death. Miracle cures prey on your desire for quick fixes to complicated medical conditions. Typically, they make unsubstantiated claims about increasing sexual performance, inducing extreme weight loss, boosting memory, or healing other serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
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Recognize Fraudulent Health Claims
Trying unproven remedies is dangerous because it can cause delays in you receiving what could be life-saving diagnoses and treatments, advises FDA national health fraud coordinator Gary Coody. Imitation products may contain hidden ingredients that can cause harm when you take them unknowingly.
Health remedy fraud is a widespread problem that poses many challenges. Tracking down responsible parties is difficult. When the FDA notifies the offenders it can locate that their treatments are illegal, a number of companies close their current websites. But the same products might reappear on other websites, sometimes with different names.
According to the FDA, avoiding phony claims like these can protect you from trying fraudulent products:
One miracle product solves everything.
Be leery of any product that professes to cure a broad array of conditions.
Attention-grabbing claims like “miracle cure,” “scientific breakthrough,” “secret ingredient,” or “new discovery.”
Trust respected media outlets and reputable doctors ― not infomercials, ads, and miracle-drug websites ― to announce legitimate treatments for serious diseases.
Even legitimate products can’t heal diseases rapidly.
Success story quotations like “My tumors vanished!” and “It reversed my diabetes!” are easy for scammers to fake, but they can’t replace scientific evidence. Careful, repeated, well-designed research ― not coincidences that charlatans tout as true cause-and-effect cases― are necessary to establish medical facts. That’s why the FDA uses clinical trials rather than testimonials from a couple of patients to evaluate if drugs are marketable legally.
Consuming certain plants can make you sick or lead to death. Many so-called all-natural products contain dangerously high hidden amounts of prescription medication or unproven artificial ingredients.
Declarations that pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with the government to keep details about miracle cures from the public are false and groundless.
Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D., and Dr. Victor Herbert, M.D., J.D., offer additional ways to spot quacks pushing bogus health products:
No side effects.
Don’t believe claims that treatments are gentler, safer, and/or side-effect free. Such weak remedies wouldn’t have the strength to provide benefits. Medications that have sufficient potency to be effective also cause some types of side effects. Rigorous FDA approval entails proof that each drug’s benefits are likely to outweigh possible harm to a great degree.
Losing weight is easy.
Diet swindlers pretend that their special pills will make weight loss effortless. The only way you can drop unwanted pounds is by burning more calories than you consume. Self-discipline is the necessary ingredient to eat less while exercising more.
Rather than stating that their products cure specific conditions, quacks may tout that they’ll revitalize, detoxify, or purify, your body; stabilize your electromagnetic energy or chemistry to harmonize with nature; strengthen or stimulate your immune system; rejuvenate or support various organs; or activate your body’s natural healing powers. Measuring these alleged processes is impossible. But using nonmedical jargon may help quacks evade legal action for practicing medicine without proper licensing.
Research is underway.
This fabrication is how scammers cover for non-existent studies. They imply that reputable medical researchers and funding entities wouldn’t be spending their time and money to study ineffective products.
Fraudulent promoters flaunt shady scientific evidence. The sources they cite might be nonexistent, untraceable, based on poorly designed research, outdated, irrelevant, or involve misinterpretations.
Trust the FDA
Each FDA-approved medication follows a long and unique route from a laboratory to your house. Most drugs undergoing preclinical animal testing don’t continue on to the three human testing phases and FDA review process. Drugs that carry on go through the federal agency’s arduous evaluation method. It scrutinizes every detail including clinical trial design, study sites, manufacturing facility conditions, side effect severity, and labeling information. The FDA’s expert review team includes medical doctors, microbiologists, chemists, pharmacologists, and statisticians who evaluate if each study’s analysis techniques, findings, and conclusions indicate that the new drug is effective and safe for its intended purpose.
Even with increased awareness, spotting fraudulent health products may be hard. The FDA recommends consulting your doctor’s office if you have any concerns about the safety of unproven health products or their suspicious claims. To verify medication authenticity, check the list of FDA-approved drugs online.