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FDA warns web fraudsters over H1N1 claims

The US FDA has issued warning letters to more than 50 websites marketing products that claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure swine (H1N1) flu

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to more than 50 websites marketing products that claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure swine (H1N1) flu.

Teams from the FDA identified websites promoting and marketing products that had not been approved, authorised or cleared by the official body and pose a potential threat to public health. These included a shampoo that claimed to protect against the H1N1 virus, a spray claiming to leave a layer of virus-killing ionic silver on one's hands, and a 'new' supplement claiming to cure infection with the H1N1 virus in four to eight hours.

Over 50 letters have been issued by the agency warning the operators of such websites that they must not market products claiming to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure the 2009 H1N1 flu virus that are not approved, cleared, or authorised by the FDA. Over 66 per cent of the websites warned have now removed the offending products and/or claims. Details of offending websites were also posted on the FDA's website.

"We are committed to aggressively pursuing those who attempt to take advantage of a public health emergency by promoting and marketing unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorised products," said Dr Margaret A Hamburg, commissioner of food and drugs.

The warning letters were issued by email and requested a response within 48 hours. Failure by offending websites to act on the warnings may result in further civil or criminal enforcement action, including criminal prosecution, seizure and injunction. 


17th June 2009


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