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Government Warns Web Sites of Bioterrorism Protection Claims

Date: January 3, 2002

Source: News Room

The federal government has warned dozens of Web site operators to stop making unproven claims about devices for bioterrorism protection, including gas masks that may not work as advertised and ultraviolet lights falsely touted as anthrax killers. Since the Sept. 11 hijackings and subsequent anthrax attacks, the Federal Trade Commission has found hundreds of Internet sites selling products targeted at new fears. The FTC sent e-mail warnings in November to operators of 50 sites that peddled questionable treatments for anthrax, smallpox and other potential biological weapons. The ineffective remedies included dietary supplements such as oregano oil and zinc mineral water. Some of the items might work in certain circumstances, but the FTC suspects the Web sites of promoting the devices with misleading or unsupported claims that overstate the protection offered. The FTC has been working with the Food and Drug Administration and law enforcement officials in 30 states to scour the Internet for misleading claims. The agency found more than 200 sites selling bioterrorism-related products. More information on FTC health fraud guidelines: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/health/frdheal.html.

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