FDA Cautions Consumers About Fraudulent Ebola Products

Davy James, Associate Editor
Published Online: Saturday, August 16, 2014
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FDA stresses that dietary supplements cannot prevent or cure the Ebola virus.

As the Ebola virus spreads throughout West Africa, escalating fear in the United States has prompted the FDA to issue a warning to consumers about fraudulent treatments for the disease.

Since the initial outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, there have been many consumer complaints about a variety of products claiming to either prevent the Ebola virus or treat the infection, the FDA said. However, there have yet to be any vaccines or drugs approved to prevent or treat the virus.

“Unfortunately, during outbreak situations, fraudulent products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure a disease all too often appear on the market,” the FDA said in a press release.
Although there are several experimental Ebola vaccines in the developmental stages, these investigational drugs have not been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate 1069 deaths from the disease, with 1975 confirmed and suspected cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Despite the fact that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said Ebola does not pose a significant threat to the United States, fears were raised domestically following scattered reports of possible Ebola incidents.

On August 3, 2014, a New York City man who recently traveled to West Africa arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital with a high fever and gastrointestinal issues. The New York City Health Department, however, released a statement that concluded the patient was not likely to have the Ebola virus.

The incident followed on the heels of 2 other reports of possible infections in New York City, where patients were isolated after exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms. In both cases, however, the Ebola virus was quickly ruled out, according to the New York Times.

One day later, a commercial airliner was held for a short time after arriving from the United Arab Emirates at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after a sick passenger was reported, though the CDC subsequently determined the passenger had suffered a seizure, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As a result of this increased fear, the FDA is seeking to stem the tide of companies selling fake remedies for the disease online.

“There are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products specifically for Ebola available for purchase on the Internet,” the FDA stated. “By law, dietary supplements cannot claim to prevent or cure disease.”

Anyone who has seen products making false claims about treating the Ebola virus are asked to report them to the FDA.


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