May 9, 2003
The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning Web site operators, manufacturers and distributors who suggest that their products will protect against, treat, or even cure Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), that they are aware of no scientific proof for such claims and that the Web site operators must remove any misleading or deceptive claims from the Internet.
A coordinated Internet "surf" found 48 sites touting a wide variety of SARS treatment or prevention products. The FTC also retrieved seven promotions for SARS products from its spam database.
The two agencies sent warnings to Web site operators, and e mail solicitors, cautioning that it is against the law to make claims about SARS protection or treatment, or any other health benefit, without rigorous scientific support. FDA has sent 8 warning letters to manufacturers and distributors who are making misleading claims. The FTC and FDA staff will follow up by revisiting the targeted sites to determine whether the Web site operators have deleted or revised unproven claims.
Included in the review were Web sites that promised consumers would be protected from SARS if they purchased such items as personal air purifiers, disinfectant sprays and wipes, respirator masks, latex gloves, dietary supplements like colloidal silver and oregano oil, and SARS "prevention kits" that package various items together, such as gloves, masks and wipes. Web sites may be subject to state or federal investigation or prosecution for making deceptive or misleading marketing claims that their products can treat, prevent, or cure SARS.
"Scam artists follow the headlines, trying to make a fast buck with products that play off the news," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Our message to e marketers making deceptive claims is 'change your site to comply with the law.' At the same time, our message to consumers is 'hold on to your money.' No products have been found effective in preventing, treating or curing SARS."
"Doctors and health care experts around the world are working hard to find treatments for SARS. Until they succeed, there are common sense actions people can take to protect themselves from SARS and other respiratory infections," said Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs.
"Bogus products from questionable Web sites do no good, and can actually make matters worse by providing a false sense of protection. FDA will continue to work with the FTC and other consumer protection agencies to protect the public from SARS related scams."
May 13, '03
Thanks Betts - its sad but I suppose it had to come