The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working with government agencies in Mexico and Canada, have launched a drive to stop deceptive Internet advertisements and sales of products misrepresented as cures or treatments for diabetes. The ongoing joint campaign has so far included approximately 180 warning letters and other advisories sent to online outlets in the three countries.
“We will continue working with our partners in the U.S. and internationally to make sure scammers have no place to hide,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The Internet can be a great source of information, but it also is a billboard for ads that promise miracle cures for diabetes and other serious diseases. Our advice to consumers: ‘Be smart, be skeptical’ when evaluating health claims online.”
“We will not tolerate practices that raise false hopes and bilk consumers of precious health care dollars,” said Margaret O’K. Glavin, FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “Diabetes requires effective treatments and aggressive management, not bogus and unproven products.”
The joint diabetes initiative to stop commercial sale of fraudulent therapies originated with a Web surf for “hidden traps” by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), an organization of law enforcement authorities, members of the Mexico, United States, and Canada Health Fraud Working Group (MUCH), and the attorneys general offices of Alaska, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. MUCH, which consists of regulatory officials from health, consumer and competition protection agencies in the three North American countries, had previously conducted a campaign against fraudulent weight-loss products.
Using the results of the Internet sweep, FTC sent warning letters for deceptive ads to 84 domestic and 7 Canadian Web sites targeting U.S. consumers, and referred an additional 21 sites to foreign governments. About a quarter of the firms have already changed their claims or removed their pages from the Internet, and several others are in contact with FTC.