Here's a simple rule of thumb for picking a medicine to treat a sexually transmitted disease: If it's available without a prescription, move on.
The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission said today they're going after marketers of 11 different STD remedies sold over-the-counter or online without a prescription.
Why? They don't work and haven't been approved. If you've got an STD, you really should see a health professional for a prescription medicine that has passed muster with the FDA, federal officials said.
In a statement, FDA said, "there are no over-the-counter or online drugs or dietary supplements available to treat or prevent STDs."
On a call with the media Tuesday afternoon, Howard Sklamberg, a senior FDA enforcement official, said there haven't been any "specific reports of injuries" from the remedies. "Our concern today is that consumers with STDs and their partners are being misled," he said.
The products, which FDA called "bogus," claim to treat many kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes, chlamydia, genital warts, and HIV/AIDS . The FTC's Richard Cleland said the commission has reviewed the claims and finds them very "problematic."
The federal agencies said some of the brand names in their sights are C-Cure, Herpaflor, Medavir, Never An Outbreak and Viruxo. (Click here for the full list.) The feds want the products off the market.
A joint FTC-FDA warning letter sent to Viruxo, based in Morriston, Fla., alleges, for instance, that the company's Viruxo Anti-Viral Support remedy is being "promoted for conditions that cause the product to be a drug" and that it was never approved by the FDA to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent herpes.
The agencies direct the company to take immediate action to correct the alleged violations. A Viruxo customer service representative contacted by Shots was unaware of the letter, but said he would relay our request for a response to the legal department.
For a roundup of the issue, see the FDA video below featuring Dr. Debbie Birnkrant, a former health clinic doctor now overseeing antiviral drugs at the agency. The bottom line, she says, "These products won't work, and they could hurt you."