The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to fall for products that claim to prevent, treat and even cure diabetes because they may contain harmful ingredients or be otherwise unsafe.
These illegal products can pose an additional risk if they cause consumers to delay or discontinue effective treatments for diabetes. Without proper diabetes management, diabetics are at greater risk for developing serious health complications.
The FDA has launched a new initiative to stop the sale of these bogus diabetes products and has issued warning letters to 15 companies to let them know selling these products is in violation of federal law. These products are sold as dietary supplements; alternative medicines such as ayuredics; prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications, including homeopathic products.
These products make claims such as “lowers your blood sugar naturally,” “It can replace medicine in the treatment of diabetes,” and “You’ll lower your chances of having eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and heart disease.” The safety and efficacy of these non-approved products cannot be guaranteed, the agency warns.
An estimated 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, including 7 million who are undiagnosed. Those with diabetes often will rely on medication to regulate their blood sugar levels. Finding alternative medications might seem appealing as some approved medications often carry serious side effects.
For example, Actos has been linked to bladder cancer, and Januvia and Byetta have been tied to acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
“Products that promise an easy fix might be alluring, but consumers are gambling with their health. In general, diabetes is a chronic disease, but it is manageable and people can lower their risk for developing complications by following treatments prescribed by health care professionals, carefully monitoring blood sugar levels, and sticking to an appropriate diet and exercise program,” said Gary Coody, R.Ph., national health fraud coordinator for FDA.