Each year thousands of consumers are bilked out of billions of dollars for bogus health products and treatments. The real tragedy of health quackery, however, cannot be measured in dollars. Rather, the greatest threat posed by these fraudulent schemes is that they may persuade people who are seriously ill to buy useless products rather than seek effective, proven medical treatment. Without proper medical treatment, diseases may progress, sometimes beyond treatable stages.
Many medical quacks are easy to spot, but other health fraud promoters make promises that appear to be based on science, exploiting popular misconceptions about health to make a profit.
A healthy dose of skepticism and a little investigating can help you avoid wasting money or jeopardizing your health. To help spot false health claims watch for these signs:
- Promises of a “quick and painless” cure.
- Extraordinary promises such as a claim that a single remedy will cure all diseases.
- A “special,” “secret” or “ancient” formula available only for a short time and only from one supplier.
- Testimonials reporting incredible medical results from “satisfied users,” especially if no substantive medical support for the claim is offered.
- The term “alternative.” Promoters of questionable therapy often describe themselves as alternative healers or therapists. Some alternative healers do not follow accepted scientific protocol.
- “Scientific breakthroughs” that a promoter says have been held back or overlooked by the medical community.
A Federal Trade Commission study on quackery found that a majority of all victims of health-care fraud are older persons, and the three largest areas for medical quackery are the aging process, arthritis and cancer.
In a youth-oriented society quacks find it easy to promote products that promise to stop or reverse the aging process. Be wary of claims that cosmetics erase wrinkles, vitamins enhance virility or creams reverse baldness. Older consumers should be especially cautious of “metabolic therapy,” which operates under the premise that diseases are caused by a buildup of toxins in the body. The course of therapy often includes a combination of potentially dangerous “alternative” health procedures such as fasting or enemas.
More than 30 million Americans suffer from arthritis. Although there are legitimate, effective treatments for arthritis, there is no known cure. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that for every $1 spent on arthritis research, $25 is spent on quack “cures.”
Cancer is a name given to a wide range of diseases requiring different forms of treatment as determined by a physician. There is no one treatment or medicine capable of treating all types of cancer. Medical science has been able to help many cancer patients, but use of a bogus remedy can delay proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you are a victim of medical quackery or other health-related consumer fraud, you may be entitled to compensation for your financial damages and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can explain your legal options.
Contact Consumer Fraud Online to discuss your case with a lawyer.