As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized or approved certain treatments and tests.
However, many other products are appearing that claim to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19, the FDA warns. These products include fraudulent tests and treatments that the FDA has not reviewed and approved.
The FDA says using unapproved products could be dangerous to you and your loved ones. FDA officials are sending warning letters to companies that are participating in fraudulent activity.
Read on to find out what the FDA has approved, how you can recognize fraudulent products, and what you can do about it.
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What Treatments and Tests Has the FDA Approved For COVID-19?
Two COVID-19 vaccines, one developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and one developed by Moderna, received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA in December 2020. A third, developed by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, received an EUA in February 2021.
Phased distribution of the vaccines has begun in the United States, but the vaccines are not currently available to the general public.
The FDA has approved one drug to treat COVID-19: the antiviral drug remdesivir. It also has issued EUAs for other forms of treatment, including monoclonal antibodies.
The FDA has authorized more than 200 COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have had contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19, talk to your doctor about testing and potential treatment. Do not seek out unapproved treatments.
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What Are Fraudulent COVID-19 Products?
According to the FDA, fraudulent products could include:
- Dietary supplements
- Medical devices
Also, do not use products marked for veterinary use, “for research use only,” or not for human consumption, the FDA says.
Unapproved products often claim to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19, but the FDA hasn’t evaluated or approved them. Because of that, they could be dangerous for you and your loved ones, causing unexpected side effects or interfering with essential medicines. The effects could be serious or even life-threatening.
How to Recognize Fraudulent COVID-19 Products
The FDA offers tips for how you can spot products that falsely claim to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19:
- If a product claims it treats a wide range of diseases, including COVID-19, be suspicious.
- Be suspicious of “quick-fix” products.
- Don’t accept product testimonials as evidence a product works.
- If a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Miracle cures are usually a hoax.
What to Do About Fraudulent COVID-19 Products
If you have a question about a COVID-19 test or treatment, talk to your health care provider. If you have a question about a medication, contact a pharmacist or the FDA’s Division of Drug Information at 1-855-543-DRUG (3784) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FDA is monitoring online and social media marketplaces that are promoting or selling false products and is working with retailers to get fraudulent items removed from shelves. It is sending warning letters to companies selling fraudulent COVID-19 products like teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.
If you see a suspicious product, you can contact the FDA at FDA-COVID-19-Fraudulent-Products@fda.hhs.gov.
For more information on COVID-19 care at UPMC, visit UPMC.com/COVID19.
Food and Drug Administration, Beware of Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines and Treatments. Link
Food and Drug Administration, Beware of Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines & Treatments (PDF). Link
Food and Drug Administration, Fraudulent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Products. Link
Food and Drug Administration, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Antigen Test as First Over-the-Counter Fully At-Home Diagnostic Test for COVID-19. Link
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.