Healthcare Business News

Ebola cure scams are out there; beware, FDA warns

By Steven Ross Johnson
Posted: August 14, 2014 - 6:45 pm ET

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a warning to the public after receiving consumer complaints of products being sold online claiming to prevent or treat the Ebola virus that has killed more than 1,000 people across four countries in West Africa.

The severity of the Ebola outbreak has recently led Nigeria to issue a stern warning to anyone—such as faith healers and traditional medicine practitioners—promoting Ebola cures that they risk arrest, according to reports.

Now, the FDA has come out against such scams, warning Internet vendors to correct or remove any claims or potentially face punitive action.

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In an e-mail response, FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson said the agency had received a “handful” of consumer complaints since the start of the outbreak in March.

There are currently no vaccines or treatments for Ebola approved by the FDA. The agency recently eased safety restrictions on an experimental drug treatment produced by Vancouver-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, allowing the possibility for the company to begin conducting human tests of its drug, TKM-Ebola, on infected patients.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is currently developing a potential Ebola vaccine with drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline that the agency expects to begin clinical trials as early as this fall.

And Thursday, reports claimed Iowa drug developer NewLink Genetics was preparing to enter the initial stages of clinical trials involving up to 100 healthy human volunteers for an Ebola vaccine.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson

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