Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fantastic Claims

By Edgar Kieu

Beware fantastic claims on supplements on the Net

YOUR recent report about two persons who were recently hospitalised for palpitations, hallucinations and anxiety from consuming a food supplement called Relacore they bought over the Internet is a reminder to consumers they should not naively believe everything they read on the Internet. It is commonplace for one to receive in one’s e-mail everyday a flood of information on health foods, dietary supplements and medicines, all claiming to fix a host of ills. You can shed weight, look younger, boost your immune system, relieve chronic pain conditions and turbo-charge your sexual performance. You only need to make a purchase via the Internet. It’s all safe, and why should you think you need to ask your doctor?

The current view is that the slimming pills consumed by the two persons may have been counterfeit versions of the genuine Relacore article. While counterfeit products are generally ineffective and produce little clinical effect, they sometimes cause actual harm.

There are no short cuts to managing one’s weight. It’s not easy, but it can be done. An overweight person needs advice on a correct and safe diet. He needs to increase his physical activity level. If this fails, the use of an approved drug under medical supervision may be appropriate. Be wary of fantastic claims.

Dr Lee Chung Horn
Singapore Association for the Study of Obesity

From Straits Times Forum page, Online Edition.

This article caught my eye as it has been a really long time since someone posted on the forums regarding absurd medical claims.

Here in Singapore, we have no shortage of quacks dispensing snake oil and despite much attention being drawn towards fantastic (I’d prefer to label them as fraudulent) claims, we still see many people falling prey to the common and usually harmless supplements.

Despite the lack of evidence supporting the consumption of antioxidants (as blogged before here), people are still lapping up all the advertisments and still buying all their supplements even when the meta-analysis pointed to an increase in mortality rate, however small.

Many of my blog readers might already be familiar with my opinion that there should be greater regulation in the area of health foods and alternative medicine. (I personally don’t like the term alternative/complementary medicine as I don’t think they are alternatives or complementary in any way) Perhaps the authorities should indeed consider having a tighter reign on such claims and start actively prosecuting people making these unjustified claims. A two pronged approach with public education and efficient prosecution coupled with close monitoring would do the industry alot of good.

However, one thought ran through my mind when I read the article: Don’t our immigration authorities screen incoming parcels containing medication? If not, who is to stop people just buying drugs (LSD, Heroin, Marijuana… you get the drift) online?

1 comment:

Marcella said...

Interesting to know.