Watch out for fake flu medicine — anything claiming to prevent, treat or cure influenza that a doctor hasn’t prescribed for you is suspect.
That’s the gist of a warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in light of this year’s record-breaking flu season.As the number of flu cases numbers in the millions and fatalities in the tens of thousands, anything promising to completely cure or prevent the illness seems tempting.
No Real Cure Yet
The only real treatment for the flu, the prescription drug Tamiflu, doesn’t completely cure the illness. The drug
Tamiflu simply reduces the severity of flu symptoms but only if taken within the first 48 hours of outbreak.
As such, the drug can prevent the onset of complications; quite possibly the drug can reduce the likelihood that flu symptoms will recur after an initial outbreak has gone
Hospitalized patients have cited the recurrence of symptoms as part of the complications of this year’s flu.
Fake Flu Medicine
The FDA emphasizes that there are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu — at least not in the U.S.
However, the agency acknowledges that legal OTC drugs treat flu symptoms — some reduce fever, headaches and cramps, while others address congestion and even nausea.
Be wary of any kind of marketing message promising more than relief of symptoms by an OTC drug.
Another thing to watch out for: online pharmacies that you to buy prescription medications without actually having to pony up a ‘scrip for it.
Although there are legitimate online pharmacies, if the prices listed on the site seem too good to be true, or if the seller is located outside of the U.S., the items on sale might be fraudulent according to American standards.
Some of these items can contain harmful ingredients or otherwise lack the correct formulation to treat the flu.
Readers, have you come down with the flu yet — or have you been vaccinated?
Jackie Cohen is an award winning financial journalist turned turned financial advisor obsessed with climate change risk, data and business. Jackie holds a B.A. Degree from Macalester College and an M.A. in English from Claremont Graduate University.