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FDA alert: Watch for illegal diabetes treatments

September 2, 2013

The AOA Clinical Resources Group advises optometrists to ask patients with diabetes if they are using illegal products labeled as diabetes treatments that claim to treat, cure, or prevent the disease or related complications.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is asking all health care professionals to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of dietary supplements or other products marketed as diabetes treatments.

The FDA recently issued letters to 15 manufacturers warning them to remove illegal products from the market.

The AOA Clinical Resources Group says optometrists should be prepared to counsel patients on the potential consequences.

“To date, the FDA is not aware of any reports of injury or illness associated with the illegally sold products, but is taking action to protect the public health from potential harm,” the FDA’s alert reads.

Be on alert for these products

According to the FDA, illegal products on the market include:

  • Products sold as “natural” diabetes treatments that contain undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients in unknown quantities. The ingredients could be harmful or unsafe to consumers.
  • Dietary supplements and “ayurvedic” products (traditional medicine from India) that claim to treat, cure, or prevent diabetes.
  • Unapproved over-the-counter drugs. For example, homeopathic products claiming to treat complications such as peripheral neuropathy.
  • Prescription drugs for diabetes sold by online pharmacies without requiring a prescription.

The FDA advises consumers to avoid such products. Using them could cause patients to delay seeking proper medical treatment for their diabetes.

Report what you find

If you come across issues related to these products, the FDA offers multiple ways to report them:

  • Complete and submit the report online at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch
  • Download the form or call 800-332-1088 to request a printed copy. Complete and return it to the address on the pre-addressed form or submit it by fax to 800-FDA-0178.

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