Swine flu scams in full swing


From an ultraviolet light that will supposedly "destroy swine flu virus" to a dietary supplement claiming to be "more effective than the swine flu shot," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on hundreds of suspected items sold online.

Those claims, as the Los Angeles Times reported, are among the pills, sanitizers, air filters and other methods being touted to diagnose, treat or prevent the H1N1 virus.

An FDA warning to consumers to use extreme caution when purchasing any such products over the Internet comes after the FDA recently purchased and analyzed several products represented online as Tamiflu, a medicine that can be prescribed by a doctor to treat and prevent the flu.

According to the FDA, one of the orders arrived in an unmarked envelope with a postmark from India, and contained unlabeled, white tablets taped between two pieces of paper. The tablets were found to contain talc and acetaminophen, but none of the active ingredient oseltamivir, also called Tamiflu. The Web site disappeared shortly after the FDA placed the order.

Here's a video from Fox 59 in Indianapolis on the online scams:

As I reported about two weeks on WalletPop, Tamiflu copies are sprouting up online, and consumers should stay away and go only with the real thing, no matter how rich it makes Donald Rumsfeld.

And beyond the swine flu, there are many online products available for the regular strain of the flu, which consumers should also take with a grain of salt. Some, however, such as inexpensive acupuncture treatments advertised as boosting immunity during flu season, are less of a concern for being scams and rely more on a patient's understanding of the treatment.