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Use caution when purchasing health care remedies

Get the facts before you buy a product that’s “too good to be true”

For years, consumers have had a tough time determining whether a health care product is safe and effective to use. In the late 19th century “snake oil” was peddled at carnival sideshows as a miracle cure for many common diseases ranging from toothaches to frost bite. Many versions of the “miracle cure” so many people purchased contained nothing more than alcohol.

 

Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on products to help keep them healthy and to help them lose weight. Even with the large amount of information available and the varied number of products on the market, it may be hard to distinguish legitimate products from fraudulent ones.

 

For example, some dietary supplements, particularly ones advertised as “natural remedies,” can be dangerous because they may interact with certain types of prescription drugs and may cause harmful side effects.

 

To be sure that you are using any health care product safely, even those prescribed by your doctor, read the labels and package insert materials and follow product directions on dosage. Address any questions you may have about a particular product to your doctor, pharmacist or other trusted health care professional. If you believe you’ve been harmed by a defective health care product, you should contact your attorney. Many dangerous products have been removed from the marketplace as a result of complaints filed by consumers, and your attorney can advise you on whether you should pursue a legal claim against the maker of the products that damaged your health.

 

If you are unsure about a particular product, ask your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional for more information.

 

If you believe a health care product is being falsely advertised, contact your state attorney general’s office, state department of health or local consumer protection agency. You can also contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov .

 

Things to look for when shopping for health care items that help determine whether a product is fraudulent:

□             Statements that the product is a quick and effective cure or diagnostic tool for a wide variety of conditions.

□             Promotions that use words scientific breakthrough, miraculous cure, exclusive product, secret ingredient or ancient remedy.

□             Undocumented case histories  or personal testimonials from consumers or doctors claiming amazing results.

□             Limited availability and advanced payment requirements like, “This offer will not last. Send us a check now to reserve your supply.”

□             Promises of no-risk “money-back guarantees.”

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