Don’t Fall for Bogus Flu Remedies

We’ve talked earlier in this blog about the importance of getting a flu shot before or during flu season, especially if you’re over 65 and/or if you have a chronic lung disease. But what about the opposite end of the spectrum: the importance of not partaking of so-called flu remedies that do not deliver the benefits that they claim? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning against using fraudulent and unapproved flu products claiming to prevent, treat or cure influenza, or flu.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., stated, “Unscrupulous actors may be taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers by promoting their fraudulent products that have not been reviewed by the FDA to be safe and effective.”

Telltale Signs That a Flu Remedy May Be Fraudulent

While there are many legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to reduce fever, muscle aches, congestion, and other symptoms typically associated with the flu, the FDA warns that there are no legally marketed (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu. Here are warning signs to look out for – avoid OTC drugs that claim to:

  • reduce severity and length of the flu;
  • boost your immunity naturally without a flu shot;
  • be a safe and effective alternative to the flu vaccine;
  • prevent catching the flu;
  • be an effective treatment for the flu;
  • cause faster recovery from the flu; or
  • support your body’s natural immune defenses to fight off the flu.

Be Careful of Purchasing OTC Drugs for the Flu from Online Pharmacies

While legitimate online pharmacies do exist, beware of purchasing flu treatments from online pharmacies that:

  • claim to sell prescription antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, at reduced prices or without a prescription;
  • allow you to buy prescription medicine without a prescription from your health care provider;
  • do not have a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions;
  • offer very low prices that seem too good to be true; or
  • are located outside of the U.S. or ship worldwide.

The FDA warns that medicines sold by unscrupulous online pharmacies can be dangerous because they may not contain the right active ingredient, or they may have too much or too little of the active ingredient you need to treat your disease or condition, or they may contain other harmful ingredients.

If You Have Flu Symptoms

If you have flu-like symptoms such as high fever, muscle aches, or congestion, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible, especially if you’re at high risk of serious flu complications. You may need treatment with antiviral drugs.

Information for this article was obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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