March 22, 2016
Some Imported Dietary Supplements and Nonprescription Drug Products May Harm You
If you buy imported products marketed as “dietary supplements” and nonprescription drug products from ethnic or international stores, flea markets, swap meets or online, watch out. Health fraud scams abound. According to Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health scammers often target advertising to people who prefer to shop at nontraditional places, especially those who have limited English proficiency and limited access to health care services and information. “These scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets,” Nunez says. For example, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and Africans may have a long tradition of turning to more herbal or so-called “natural” remedies. Many advertisers put the word “natural” somewhere on the package of a product, knowing it inspires trust in certain groups back to top
Watch out for claims like these, which are often used to sell non-prescription health products. You can’t always trust what you read on the label or package—even if it is in a language you know. Download this graphic at a larger size and in multiple languages from Flickr. For more information about these products, visit:
- One product does it all. Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of diseases.
- Personal testimonials. Success stories such as “It cured my diabetes,” or “My tumors are gone,” are easy to make up and are not a substitution for scientific evidence.
- Quick fixes. Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, even with legitimate products. Beware of language such as “lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” or “eliminates skin cancer in days.”
- “All natural.” Some plants found in nature can kill if you eat them. Plus, FDA has found products promoted as “all natural” that contain hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription drug ingredients.
- Miracle cure. Alarms should go off when you see this claim or others like it such as “new discovery” or “scientific breakthrough.” A real cure for a serious disease would be all over the media and prescribed by doctors—not buried in print ads, TV infomercials, or on Internet sites.
- FDA-Approved. Domestic or imported dietary supplements are not approved by FDA.