Wednesday, August 31, 2005

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Older Americans may be especially vulnerable to health fraud
because approximately 80 percent of them have at least one chronic
health problem, according to Renner. Many of these problems, such
as arthritis, have no cure and, for some people, no effective treatment.
He says their pain and disability lead to despair, making them
excellent targets for deception.

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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.