Two US government agencies warned consumers to steer clear of bogus products claiming to fight or prevent the new strain of flu that has the world on pandemic alert.
"Consumers who purchase products to treat the novel 2009 H1N1 virus that are not approved, cleared or authorized by the FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza risk their health and the health of their families," Michael Chappell, acting FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, said.
"The last thing any consumer needs right now is to be conned by someone selling fraudulent flu remedies," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
Many of the bogus products, which include dietary supplements and products claiming to be drugs or vaccines, are being sold over the Internet, the FDA said.
"The operators of these web sites take advantage of the public?s concerns about H1N1 influenza and their desire to protect themselves and their families," a statement issued by the two federal agencies said.
Chappell threatened tough action against "individuals or businesses that wrongfully promote purported 2009 H1N1 influenza products in an attempt to take advantage of the current flu public health emergency," while Leibowitz said the FTC will "act swiftly against companies that resort to deceptive advertising."
Only two antiviral drugs, Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), are approved by the FDA for treatment of the new H1N1 flu virus, which was first detected in Mexico last month and has since been blamed for 15 deaths there and one in the United States, the statement said.
No vaccine exists as yet to prevent the H1N1 influenza, which is also referred to as swine flu.