ON YOUR SIDE: Avoid fraudulent flu products

Published: Feb. 5, 2013 at 10:26 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 at 10:47 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The flu remains wide-spread in 80 percent of the country - including Virginia.

The FDA is warning about scammers pushing products that could prey upon people trying not to get sick.

Those products include fake flu drugs, dietary supplements, teas and even air filters that the FDA has not approved.

The unapproved products make bold claims, but they haven't gone through rigorous FDA testing, so doctors say don't use them.

In fact, the FDA says there are no legally-marketed, over-the-counter drugs that can stop you from getting the flu - or cure it.

Dr. Thomas Murphy with Patient First says he's worried, because people who use them don't know what they're getting.

"Some of them say they were tested by certain laboratories," said Dr. Murphy. "Who are these laboratories? Who inspected them? We don't know. Their claims are not always what they claim to be. If you use them, there's no guarantee that they're going to make you better than just drinking water."

Here are some red flag claims the FDA says to watch out for. Products making claims of:

•  Reducing the severity and length of the illness

•  Boosting your immunity naturally without a flu shot

•  Products that claim to prevent you from catching the flu, or can boost your body's natural immune defenses to fight it off

Some might say they provide a safe and effective alternative to the flu vaccine, or flu medication like Tamiflu or Relenza - don't buy it. There is no FDA-approved generic, for either one. Tamiflu and Relenza are the only FDA recommended medicines for the flu.

Dr. Murphy says flu season will likely last through March, so get the flu vaccine. It's a good idea and it's not too late.

FDA website - Beware of Fraudulent Flu Products

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