FDA Consumer Protection Week To Focus On COVID-19 Scams
Federal health regulators warn consumers to beware of scammers selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines and cures, indicating these products may provide a false sense of protection and potentially cause serious injuries.
As part of National Consumer Protection week, the FDA issued a statement on March 2, indicating that a growing number of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccinations or treatments have been marketed since the coronavirus pandemic emerged last year. These products may be described as potential cures or protections against COVID-19, which are unproven and potentially dangerous.
These fraudulent COVID-19 products not only harm consumer health but can also undermine public confidence in legitimate vaccines, according to officials.
Did You Know?
Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled
Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.Learn More
“Unproven products purporting to prevent or treat COVID-19, made from unknown substances under unknown conditions, present significant health risks in and of themselves,” wrote the FDA. “They can also lead consumers to make lifestyle choices that increase their risk of infection with COVID-19, or to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment.”
The FDA has identified at least 1,300 fraudulent products, sent more than 160 warning letters to manufacturers or retailers, issued more than 270 abuse complaints to domain registrars, and sent more than 290 requests to various marketplaces to remove listings for fraudulent COVID-19 products.
In one case, the Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) investigated, charged and obtained guilty pleas from a Georgia man and his company for selling misbranded drugs advertised to treat COVID-19. The company sold an “Immune Shot,” advertised to “lower your risk of COVID-19 by nearly 50%.”
The suspect targeted individuals over 50 with sales pitches on his website indicating, “The next five minutes could save your life” and “Immune Shot could be the most important formula in the world right now due to the new pandemic.”
In another case, an OCI agent went undercover to arrest a scammer posing as a biotech expert. The suspect claimed to have created an injectable COVID-19 vaccine costing $400-$1000 each. The scammer was eventually arrested for vaccinating people with the fraudulent vaccine.
The agency also investigated tea products claiming to deliver the same benefits as the COVID-19 vaccine.
Any product claiming to treat COVID-19 or to act as a vaccine that is not issued by the FDA is fraudulent and may be harmful, the agency warns consumers.
Recently a fraudulent email using the FDA logo advised consumers to call a cell phone to schedule a vaccination. If a consumer is contacted directly by someone claiming to be the FDA it is a scam.
Any type of advertisement for the COVID-19 vaccine is a scam, according to regulators. The COVID-19 vaccines the FDA has authorized cannot be sold online. The legitimate vaccine is distributed for free though local health departments.
The FDA issued these new warnings as part of Consumer Protection week to help alert consumers about scams and to help consumers protect themselves from fraud. The agency is also holding a twitter chat on March 4, using the hashtags #SlamTheScam in English and #OjoConLasEstafas in Spanish to discuss COVID-19 scams.
Consumers should report any websites and individuals suspected of selling fraudulent or unapproved and unauthorized COVID-19 products to the FDA website.
"*" indicates required fields
More Top Stories
Uber faces a lawsuit from four passengers who say they were sexually assaulted by drivers, due to the company's lack of security measures and focus on passenger safety.
A Bard PowerPort lawsuit claims the defective design of the port catheter led to a woman developing a severe infection and needing to have the implant surgically removed.
The new federal judge overseeing all talcum powder lawsuits has called for a Science Day to educate the court ahead of planned Daubert hearings which could decide if bellwether test trials can move forward.