Beware of Unapproved H1N1 Products

The FDA urges caution when searching for H1N1 products on the internet because many unapproved H1N1 products purport to prevent, diagnose, or treat H1N1.

The FDA warns consumers of the potential danger of these products and cautions consumers that they should use only FDA approved products from licensed pharmacies. The potential dangers of using unapproved FDA products include an "increased risk of suffering life-threatening adverse events such as side effects from inappropriately using prescription medications, dangerous drug interactions, contaminated drugs, and impure or unknown ingredients found in unapproved drugs."

Currently, Tamiflu and Relenza are the only two FDA-approved antiviral drugs to treat H1N1.

With unapproved products, you can't be sure what you're getting. For example, the FDA, in monitoring the web for unapproved products, ordered a shipment of what was purported online to be Tamiflu. The FDA received an an unmarked envelope postmarked from India. The envelope contained "unlabeled, white tablets taped between two pieces of paper." The tablets were analyzed, and it was determined that they contained talc and acetaminophen (fever reducer and pain reliever). The tablets did not contain oseltamivir, the active ingredient of Tamiflu.

Among the products that the FDA has targeted:

  • a shampoo said to protect against the H1N1 flu virus
  • a dietary supplement said to protect infants and young children from contracting the virus
  • a "new" supplement said to cure H1N1 flu infection within four to eight hours
  • a spray that claims to leave a layer of ionic silver on one's hands that kills the flu virus
  • several diagnostic tests that have not been approved to detect the H1N1 flu virus
  • an electronic instrument whose sellers claim uses "photobiotic energy" and "deeply penetrating mega-frequency life-force energy waves" to strengthen the immune system and prevent symptoms associated with H1N1 viral infection