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FTC Fights Fake Anthrax Cures on Internet

The government is warning websites to stop selling unproven treatments for anthrax, smallpox and bioterrorism agents. The treatments include dietary supplements such as oregano oil and zinc mineral water. The Federal Trade Commission says there?s no scientific evidence that any of these alternative treatments work.

The FTC has sent e-mail warnings to site operators, giving them a week to reply. Operators who don?t comply could be fined, banned from operating or required to refund consumers? money.

The FTC has been working with the Food and Drug Administration and law enforcement officials in 30 states, searching the Internet for products that falsely claim to protect against, detect, prevent or treat biological and chemical agents such as anthrax. These include mail sterilizers, biohazard test kits, homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements. They found more than 200 websites selling such products.

There is no proven treatment for smallpox, nor any FDA-approved home anthrax test. The FDA has already shut down several foreign pharmacies illegally selling Cipro on the Internet because there?s no way to tell if it?s genuine. It?s illegal to sell antibiotics over the Internet without a doctor?s prescription.

?These operators need to shut down these areas of their sites or face prosecution,? says Howard Beales, the FTC?s director of consumer protection. ?This should help put an early end to misleading marketing that attempts to prey on people?s fears of anthrax, smallpox or any other biological or chemical threats.?

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