Everyone is washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, some even wearing masks people are lining up and clamoring for H1N1 flu shots, doing anything to avoid getting sick.
But how about drinking this herbal tea? Or using a special shampoo? Or waving a light wand to kill flu germs?
Our investigation found some companies are cashing in on flu fears, pushing products like these they claim will keep you healthy.
Federal officials say, the claims are not only bogus, but illegal.
Richard Cleland, Federal Trade Commission"They don't help people. They steal their money and endanger their health."
Look at this website for that Herbal tea–it claims to "Prevent H1N1"-and can even "make a difference in curing it"–health officials say–no way.
Richard Cleland, Federal Trade Commission"That is a consumer rip off."
On this website, the ad says "protect yourself now from the swine flu!" And for 10 dollars, it says, you can buy bottles of these pills it calls: "Swine Flu Antiviral Support Tablets"
Federal health officials say: There's no such thing.
Gary Coody, Food and Drug Administration"It makes me angry."
We found more flu fakery, like an anti-flu shampoo. Feds say a site claimed the shampoo works "because the swine flu virus is airborne, it may settle on your hair," That's not true.
How about this a sanitizing UV light wand? you're supposed to wave over surfaces in your house-the ad said it can destroy a number of viruses including swine flu–the feds say–that doesn't work.
And we found ads for inhalers, gloves, air purifiers, herbal extracts–all making claims they'll help you–they feds say they won't.
So federal investigators are now slapping companies with orders to stop..this list shows more than 70 companies now put on notice to "cease marketing" the "unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized products."
Gary Coody, FDA"Some of these products can in themselves be harmful and can cause adverse effects in people."
Not only do they not work, no one knows what's in the products. So using them is not only risky–but deters you from doing what will help.
Problem is: we found there may be flu fraud even with products you think are approved. Some people thought they were buying Tamiflu -a flu remedy okayed by the FDA–
But federal investigators showed us these pills–sold as Tamiflu and purchased on line. These the FDA analyzed–and the pills only contained acetaminophen and talc. No flu medicine at all.
Gary Coody, FDA "Consumers should be very cautious and very suspicious of any prescription drugs, especially ones that are sold without a prescription on the internet."
The Feds say most of the websites it warned took down their false claims–but they know there are more out there. For a list of fraudulent flu products and information on how to report products you suspect may be flu fakes, click on the link below.