Too Good to Be True?: Preventing Health Fraud and Scams
Anti-aging and alternative health products are extremely popular among people, especially senior citizens. One in ten seniors uses some type of dietary supplement on a daily basis, such as ginkgo biloba, St. Johns wort, glucosamine, melatonin, and other herbal and botanical preparations. Some of these supplements may indeed have beneficial medical uses, but may also increase risks for adverse reactions.
Worse, billions of consumer dollars are wasted on unproven, fraudulently marketed, and sometimes useless health care products and treatments. In addition to wasting their money, consumers with serious medical problems may be wasting valuable time before they seek proper treatment. Some products may cause serious harm and endanger lives. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have identified products whose marketing and advertising is fraudulent or misleading, including products whose ingredients are substandard or useless.
Fortunately, there are ways to tell which health-related claims are likely to be legitimate. This article will help you spot false and unsubstantiated claims. It describes some typical areas where fraud flourishes and suggests how you can protect yourself.
How to Spot False Claims
Remember the first
rule of thumb for evaluating health claims: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably
is. Also, learn to recognize the typical phrases and marketing techniques used to deceive
In addition, health care clinics that require patients to travel away from home to receive treatment may be suspect. While many clinics offer effective treatments, some prescribe untested, unapproved, ineffective, and possibly dangerous "cures." Moreover, physicians who work in such clinics may be unlicensed or lack appropriate specialization. For these reasons, you should contact state or local health authorities where the clinic is located before you arrange to go.
Finally, don't rely on promises of a "money-back guarantee." Be aware that many fly-by-night operators will not be around to respond to a refund request.
- Breakthrough? Understanding the Drug Development
and Approval Process http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/drugs.html
Food and Drug Administration
Resources for Assessing Health Information on the Internet
Available from ElderCare Online www.ec-online.net ©2001 Prism Innovations, Inc.