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FDA cracks down on fraudulent flu remedies

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 4, 2013

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Although influenza activity is decreasing nationwide, the Food and Drug Administration continues to identify untested and unapproved products that are being marketed illegally in the U.S. using deceptive claims that they prevent, treat or cure the flu.

In February, the FDA sent at least nine warning letters to companies marketing fraudulent flu-fighting products. Letters were issued to an online seller who claimed to have an alternative to the influenza vaccine as well as to online companies selling what they claim to be generic versions of oseltamivir phosphate, which is the active ingredient in Tamiflu. There is no generic Tamiflu approved for sale in the U.S., the FDA noted.

During the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009-10, the FDA issued more than 100 warning letters to sellers fraudulently promoting their products to prevent H1N1.

Such letters describe how the products in question violate federal law and instruct sellers to respond in writing with descriptions of how they plan to address the violations. If no response is received within 15 days and the company continues to sell the items without correcting the violations, the FDA can seize products that are being sold by a U.S. company. For a foreign company, the FDA can notify law enforcement in the nation where the seller maintains its operations (link)

Patients who buy prescription drugs from online pharmacies should be advised to use only online pharmacies that require valid prescriptions from doctors or other authorized health care professionals, the FDA said. An online pharmacy also should be licensed by the state board of pharmacy or an equivalent agency in the state where the patient resides.

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