Another H1N1 mutation results in the resistance to treatment with antiviral medication. Will any of these mutated viruses soon be coming to a public place near you? With flu viruses taking a turn for deadlier symtpoms, more cyber sites are springing up offering solutions, and the FDA is cracking down on what the FDA labels sites of scams and frauds.
The World Health Organization announced on Nov. 28, 2009 that it is investigating reports of mutations in the swine flu virus, after half a dozen countries recorded cases in which the virus was transforming. What alternatives is the average consumer left with, when the FDA is warning people to beware of swine flu treatments online that have not been scientifically proven or approved by the FDA. Do you go back to the old fashioned stand-by, the mask and goggles and hand sanitizers? If people walk down supermarket aisles not covering their coughs, what can you do to protect yourself?
You could check out the November 27, 2009 article, "Virus mutation spreads as swine flu deaths leap | AFP | MyWire." Swine flu virus mutations are spreading in Europe, French health officials said Friday as the World Health Organization reported a leap in deaths from the disease by more than 1,000 in a week. As the flu mutates, becomes deadlier, and travels around the world, there's a tendency for more cyber shopping sites online to spring up. But what are the online shopping sites offering consumers hungry for information that's validated by scientific studies or medical proof that they work? And what role can the FDA take to help?
The FDA is concerned about various sites offering products with unproven claims. And the FDA is rebuking the sites to stop claiming flu prevent products that haven't been proven by validated scientific studies and approved specifically for flu prevention by the FDA.
Now that a new strain of flu virus is mutating across Europe, causing death by bleeding lungs and cardiogenic shock, not a secondary bacterial pneumonia infection, how many sites are going to spring up offering prevention products? And how will the FDA respond?
As swine flu hits those ages 25-49 hardest presently, more sites are springing up offering preventative methods to that group, but the FDA is taking a stand in the scams and frauds among the products being offered. The big problem is that although any product can be approved by the FDA for specific uses, it may not have been FDA approved for prevention of swine flu.
The Food and Drug Administration has found at least 20 Web sites that may be fraudulently marketing products with claims that they guard against or cure swine flu, according to the Associated Press in an article published Monday, according to the article, "Cracking Down on Swine Flu Drug Fraud." Consumers now can submit tips about possible online swine flu fraud or scam sites to the FDA at its Flu Contact site. Also see the article, "Online Gangs Sell Fake Swine Flu Drugs, Firm Warns."
The FDA publicly rebuked one such H1N1 flu prevention product site last Monday — — for offering a $199 "SilverCure Swine Flu Protection Pack" that includes shampoo, lotion, conditioner and soap that supposedly deposit traces of silver and gave the site a short time limit to take that claim off the site and products. Check out the site for the new FDA Swine Flu Consumer Team and related articles such as ,"FDA warns: Swine flu scams lurk on the Internet," by Marilynn Marchione, from the Associated Press, published online Oct. 25, 2009. See the FDA 2009 H1N1 (Swine) Flu Page.
"Everything you need to protect yourself and family," the Web site says. But the FDA says no silver-based products have been approved for swine flu treatment or prevention, so it's illegal to claim such benefits. How powerful is the FDA in protecting consumers against sites online selling products that claim to prevent flu viruses from making you sick with swine flu?
Can the sites put up the disclaimer that their product has not been approved by the FDA for any treatments or cures for any disease? Or can the sites sell the product to consumers without claims? What if any claims are backed up by medial studies? Will the FDA take the opposite view and say the studies are inconsistent or too small?
What do you think is the smartest approach to protecting consumers. And how do you balance products against consumer's choices? How do you separate the scams and the fraud from giving consumers free choice of a wide variety of products to use against the flu? And how would you know whether any of the products offered by the wide variety of sites actually work?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend widespread use of face masks, saying only that they may be useful — along with other measures — for people who may be in close contact with people may have flu. Surgical gloves are only recommended for people like first responders having direct contact with ill people. Check out the Swine Flu Fraud Page.
Also see the Fox News, Chicago article, "Cracking Down on Swine Flu Drug Fraud." The Food and Drug Administration has found at least 20 Web sites that may be fraudulently marketing products with claims that they guard against or cure swine flu, an agency official told Fox News last Monday.
You might be seeing more sites online claiming to help prevent the toxic strain of the newer mutation of H1N1 flu that literally destroys the lungs and is responsible for deaths in Bukovina and throughout the Ukraine. Once the virus enters the lungs, hemorrhaging begins immediately.
What the people die from is a cardio-pulmonary insufficiency and cardiogenic shock, not pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is an inflammation, which is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics cannot help at any stage with the flu, especially not H1N1 mutations. In Europe, apparently, people buy antibiotics without prescriptions over the counter, which are useless when a flu mutation strikes.
The big concern is whether the mutation is resistant to the current flu vaccine and drugs such as Tamiflu as it's claimed to be in Europe and is the flu with the new mutation coming to the USA or not, or has it already arrived here? Consumers are going to go online looking for preventions. That's when the sites will start offering solutions. The question is now how can consumers be prepared to separate the scams from real, helpful sites offering solutions backed up by proven, credible medical studies??
See the November 29, 2009 Huffington Post article, "Swine Flu Mutation: New Strain Found In Europe; Drug Resistant And Harsher Symptoms." What are the cyber sites going to offer if and when this new mutation spreads in the USA?
Some sites are selling the antiviral Tamiflu apparently without requiring a doctors' prescriptions, or expensive kits of surgical masks, gloves, and anti-bacterial wipes and gels. Surgical masks and gloves are medical devices and must have FDA approval. Even though the items being sold online are FDA-approved, how can you as an average consumer validate whether the claims being made about a variety of products are accurate?
Here are some sites to look at during Cyber Monday if you're looking for a holiday gift for family and friends. Should you send them a flu-prevention kit that you buy online? Or are these kits not really protective as much as you'd think? To find answers, you should know that the FDA tracks and prosecutes advertisers who make fraudulent claims in ads about preventing or treating the H1N1 virus.