Thursday, April 28, 2005

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People at Risk
Teenagers and the elderly are two prime targets for health fraud
promoters.
Teenagers concerned about their appearance and susceptible to peer
pressure may fall for such products as fraudulent diet pills, breast
developers, and muscle-building pills.

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For example, he says, several skin cream products promise to
prevent transmission of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and herpes
viruses. They are promoted especially to health-care workers. Many
of the creams contain antibacterial ingredients but, "there is no
substantiation at all on whether or not [the skin creams] work" against
HIV, says Aronson. FDA has warned the manufacturers of these
creams to stop the misleading promotions.

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"What you see out there is the promotion of products claiming to cure
or prevent AIDS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and a list of other
diseases that goes on and on," says Joel Aronson, director of FDA's
Health Fraud Staff, in the agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and
Research.

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Indirectly harmful products are those that do not themselves cause
injury, but may lead people to delay or reject proven remedies,
possibly worsening their condition. For example, if cancer patients
reject proven drug therapies in favor of unproven ones and the
unproven ones turn out not to work, their disease may advance
beyond the point where proven therapies can help.