Because COVID-19 has never been seen in humans before, there are currently no vaccines to prevent COVID-19 approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA recently approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir.
The FDA is working with vaccine and drug manufacturers to develop new vaccines for and find more drugs to treat COVID-19 as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, some people and companies are trying to profit from this pandemic by selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims, such as being effective against the coronavirus.
These fraudulent products that claim to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19 haven’t been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness and might be dangerous to you and your family.
The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm. It’s likely that the products do not do what they claim, and the ingredients in them could cause adverse effects and could interact with, and potentially interfere with, essential medications.
The FDA has also seen unauthorized fraudulent test kits for COVID-19 being sold online. Currently, the only way to be tested for COVID-19 is to talk to your health care provider.
At this time, the FDA has authorized one COVID-19 self-test to be completely used and processed at home. You will risk unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or not getting treated appropriately if you use an unauthorized test.
The FDA advises consumers to be cautious of websites and stores selling products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. There are no FDA-approved products to prevent COVID-19. Products marketed for veterinary use, or “for research use only,” or otherwise not for human consumption, have not been evaluated for safety and should never be used by humans.
For example, the FDA is aware of people trying to prevent COVID-19 by taking a product called chloroquine phosphate, which is sold to treat parasites in aquarium fish. Products for veterinary use or for “research use only” may have adverse effects, including serious illness and death, when taken by people.
Here are some tips to identify false or misleading claims.
- Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.
- Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
- Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a “quick fix.”
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- “Miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, and speak to your medical provider. Your health care provider will advise you about whether you should get tested and the process for being tested in your area.
If you have a question about a treatment or test found online, talk to your health care provider or doctor. If you have a question about a medication, call your pharmacist or the FDA. The FDA’s Division of Drug Information (DDI) will answer almost any drug question. DDI pharmacists are available by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and by phone, 1-855-543-DRUG (3784) and 301-796-3400.