Beware of swine flu swindles

Fretting about getting swine flu? Would you try a product called Silver Shampoo? Or Four Thieves sanitizing spray?

The FDA warns that if it’s too good to be true, forget about it.

A crush of Internet vendors are cashing in on swine flu fears and preying on unwitting customers. And the goods they’re hawking — from herbal teas to body washes to inhalers — could hurt more than your wallet, officials said yesterday.

“Some of the products could do harm to people. Some of them aren’t going to have any impact at all; they’re just falsely advertised. None of them are going to stop the flu,” said FDA spokesman Christopher Kelly, whose agency has released a list of more than 140 fake flu remedies.

The H1N1 vaccine, Tamiflu and Relenza are the only FDA-approved drugs for swine flu.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday urged the Federal Trade Commission to further probe and punish the vendors.

“These hucksters need to be stopped,” he wrote, calling some of the Web sites “fly-by-night scam artists” and vowing to put them out of business.

One item on the FDA’s condemned list is a spray that leaves ionic silver on your hands that claims to kill the virus.

The manufacturer of a similar ionic silver product — this one a surface spray not named by the FDA in its list of questionable remedies — yesterday maintained that her company’s EPA-approved product is effective against H1N1 flu.

“Test data shows our product works against an H1N1 strain of influenza in as quickly as one minute,” said Dolana Blount, director of regulatory products at PURE Bioscience.

Flu goods manufacturers slammed by Schumer and the FDA, including, didn’t return calls for comment yesterday. About 80 percent of them have already removed claims from their Web sites that they cure, repel or protect from H1N1 flu, Kelly said.

New Yorkers were skeptical of products that promised fast swine flu relief.

“They can’t even get the flu shot to work right, so why would I trust a product that says it would protect me from it?” said Bob Martinez, 44, of the Bronx.

Marlene Soto, 19, of the Bronx, also had her doubts.

“I would need proof that the product worked, and how would they prove it? Stick [around] in a room of people who have swine flu?” she said

Phoebe Kingsak contributed to this story.

Tags: swine flu , FDA , medicine

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