FDA 101: Health Fraud

What is Health Fraud?

Health fraud is the deceptive sale or advertising of products that claim to be effective against medical conditions or otherwise beneficial to health, but which have not been proven safe and effective for those purposes.

Common Types of Health Fraud

Cancer fraud:

Among the many long-running cancer scams is the Hoxsey Cancer Treatment, an herbal regimen that has no proven benefit. Another scam involves products called black salves. These are offered with the false promise of drawing cancer out from the skin, but they are potentially corrosive to tissues.

HIV/AIDS fraud:

There are legitimate treatments that can help people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). While early treatment of HIV can delay progression to AIDS, there is currently no cure for the disease.

Arthritis fraud:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says consumers spend about $2 billion annually on unproven arthritis remedies that are not backed by adequate science.

Fraudulent “diagnostic” tests:

Doctors often use in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests—in tandem with a physical examination
and a medical history—to get a picture of a patient’s overall health.

Bogus dietary supplements:

The array of dietary supplements—including vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, animal extracts and others—has grown tremendously.

Weight loss fraud:

Since 2003, FDA has worked with national and international partners to take hundreds of compliance actions against companies pushing bogus and misleading weight loss schemes.

Sexual enhancement product fraud:

FDA has warned consumers about numerous illegal drugs promoted and sold online for treating erectile dysfunction and for enhancing sexual performance.

Diabetes fraud:

FDA has taken numerous compliance actions against sales of fraudulent diabetes “treatments” promoted with bogus claims such as

* “drop your blood sugar 50 points in 30 days”
* “eliminate insulin resistance”
* “prevent the development of type 2 diabetes”
* “reduce or eliminate the need for diabetes drugs or insulin”

Influenza (flu) scams:

Federal agencies have come across contaminated, counterfeit, and subpotent influenza products.

FDA, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has intercepted products claimed to be generic versions of the influenza drug Tamiflu, but which actually contained vitamin C and other substances not shown to be effective in treating or preventing influenza.

Source: FDA

2 Responses to FDA 101: Health Fraud

  1. John Bureau says:

    When discussing Healthcare Fraud, it is important to remember that the first mentions of it by government agencies were not aimed at unproven remedies. It was aimed at investigating and controlling proven remedies that were being provided in an unnecessary, inappropriate or income-motivated manners by physicians, hospitals and other mainstream care providers. The cost of this is considerably more than that of bogus weight loss or male enhancement products. Yet attention has been diverted from it by setting up the straw man of “unproven remedies” being against public health and interest.

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