The FDA is going after treatments sold via the Web. Here's why they're bogus, and why people want them anywayThe website for MedaVir, a drug claiming to "stop herpes outbreaks," features a generic photo of a man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope slung around his neck. Next to him, there's an endorsement of the product: "MedaVir is the only treatment that works. That is why I continue to recommend it to all of my patients with herpes." The quote -- which ignores Famvir, Valtrex, and other FDA-approved herpes drugs -- is attributed simply to "Licensed Medical Doctor/Gynecologist, Florida." Why, thanks for weighing in with your medical expertise, Dr. Licensed Medical Doctor/Gynecologist!
Advertisements for dubious treatments for STDs -- especially herpes -- are abundant online, and the FDA has taken note. Today the regulatory agency announced that it's cracking down on some of the most outrageous examples, including C-Cure, Herpaflor, Medavir, Never An Outbreak and Viruxo. The companies were warned that their products "violate federal law" and have been given 15 days to comply. Of course, there are unproven "cures" targeting just about every condition under the sun, but this particular sliver of the market comes with an unrivaled mix of embarrassment and despair, and some companies are all too happy to exploit that.
The MedaVir site tells visitors, "Herpes outbreaks can make you feel isolated, even hopeless." The Never An Outbreak website sympathizes, "Painful, irritating, embarrassing. We understand the devastating effect cold sores and genital herpes can have on you. It doesn't have to be that way anymore." Elizabeth Boskey, a sexual health expert who has warned about the dangers of these types of sites in the past, told me, "They are basically preying on people who are desperate and willing to spend anything on something that will help them."