Cayetano warns against deceptive therapeutic claims amid swine flu scare

June 22, 2009 8:50 am 

MANILA, June 22 — Amid the public hysteria caused by the first reported death in the Philippines from A/H1N1, Senator Pia Cayetano appealed on Monday for public vigilance and calm in dealing with the spread of the new influenza virus.

”We must not be complacent. As previously warned, those with pre-existing conditions are vulnerable. So we should continue to be vigilant," Cayetano said.

At the same time, the lady lawmakers warned the public not to be deceived by therapeutic claims being spread by certain health product manufacturers and distributors against the virus.

Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on social justice, issued the warning in support of an earlier order by the Department of Health (DOH) instructing the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) to probe possible misinformation by companies that advertise health supplements supposedly as vaccines or cures to A(H1N1).

“While the vaccine is still being developed, our best means of defense against A/H1N1 are still good health, right information and taking necessary precautions. It’s the height of irresponsibility for manufacturers to claim or to even suggest that consuming their products would increase human resistance to the new virus. They add to disinformation and even profit from it,” she said.

At the same time, she called for the immediate enactment of the measure of the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009” which seeks to strengthen BFAD by reconstituting it into the FDA.

The measure was ratified by both chambers before Congress went on break earlier this month and is now only awaiting the final signature of the President to become a law.

Cayetano, one of the bill’s principal authors and sponsors, noted that FDA will have expanded authority compared to the BFAD for the effective monitoring of health products and ensuring their compliance to safety standards. The agency will have primary jurisdiction not only over dietary supplements, but also food, medicines, cosmetics and medical devices.

“Under the new law, the FDA will have the authority to conduct spot checks on establishments for compliance and issue cease-and-desist orders for health products found to pose a threat to public health. The agency can also order the ban or recall from the market of any health product that is found to be unsafe or grossly deceptive, such as those that make false therapeutic claims,” Cayetano explained. (PNA) /V3/jfm/utb/

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