While we remain vigilant to protect our families and communities from the spread of COVID-19, some might be tempted to buy or use questionable products that claim to help diagnose, treat, cure and even prevent coronavirus disease.
Some people and companies are trying to profit from this disease by selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims. Unlike products approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fraudulent products that claim to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent COVID-19 haven’t been evaluated by the agency for safety and effectiveness and might be dangerous to you and your family.
The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause people to delay, skip or stop appropriate medical treatment for COVID-19, leading to serious and life-threatening harm. It’s likely that the products do not do what they claim, and the ingredients in them could cause adverse effects (bad reactions) and could interact and potentially interfere with medications to treat many underlying medical conditions.
For more information and resources, visit covid.gov.
Vaccines and Treatments for COVID-19
Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect everyone from COVID-19. The FDA has approved and authorized vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19. For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit this FDA page. Find a COVID‑19 vaccine and booster near you at vaccines.gov.
The FDA continues to work with vaccine and drug manufacturers, developers and researchers to help improve the development and availability of medical products – such as additional vaccines, antibodies and medicines – to prevent or treat COVID-19.
The FDA has approved and authorized treatments for COVID-19 that are available through your health care professional, pharmacies and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. The Treatment LocatorExternal Link Disclaimer can help you find a location that offers testing and treatment or a pharmacy where you can fill your prescription.
Consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations.
Taking Drugs Meant for Animals Is Dangerous
In addition, the FDA reminds people that taking drugs for animals is dangerous.
People shouldn’t use products marketed for veterinary use that have not been evaluated by the FDA for human safety or that are otherwise not for human consumption. Those products may have adverse effects, including serious illness and death, when taken by people.
The FDA has received reports of people who have needed medical attention, including hospitalization, after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for treating certain parasitic infections in livestock. The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals. The FDA is also aware of people trying to prevent COVID-19 by taking chloroquine phosphate, which is sold to treat parasites in aquarium fish.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From COVID-19 Fraud
The FDA advises consumers to be cautious of websites and stores selling products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.
Fraudulent COVID-19 products come in many varieties, including supposed dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products claiming to be tests, drugs, medical devices or vaccines. The FDA has been working with companies to remove hundreds of misleading products from stores and online. The agency will continue to monitor social media and online marketplaces promoting and selling fraudulent COVID-19 products.
Here are some tips to identify false or misleading claims:
- Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.
- Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
- Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a “quick fix.”
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- “Miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.
The FDA is actively monitoring for any firms marketing products with fraudulent COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention and treatment claims. We have also increased our enforcement at ports of entry to ensure that fraudulent products do not enter the country through our borders.
In addition, the FDA is monitoring complaints of suspected fraudulent coronavirus treatments, vaccines and tests. Consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, and speak to your medical professional. If you have a question about a treatment or test found online, talk to your health care professional. If you have a question about a medication, call your pharmacist or the FDA. The FDA’s Division of Drug Information (DDI) will answer almost any drug question. DDI pharmacists are available by email, [email protected], and by phone, 1-855-543-DRUG (3784) and 301-796-3400.
The sale of fraudulent COVID-19 products is a threat to the public health. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. If you are concerned about COVID-19, talk to your health care professional and follow the advice of the FDA’s federal partners about how to prevent the spread of this illness.
For more information on health fraud and to report suspect products, visit this FDA page.