Health products that make false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 may put your health at risk

Starting date:
March 27, 2020
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Medical Device, Natural health products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-72659

Last updated:

Summary

  • Product: Health products that make false and misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.
  • Issue: Health Canada is warning Canadians about the risks of purchasing health products that make unauthorized claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.
  • What to do: If you have purchased health products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19, stop using them immediately and consult a health care professional if you have any concerns. If you have any information on the potential false or misleading advertising or sale of products in Canada, report it.

Issue

OTTAWA – Health Canada is warning Canadians about the risks of buying health products— including drugs, natural health products, homeopathic products, and medical devices—that make false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.

Health Canada has received reports about health products that make false or misleading claims related to COVID-19 and is taking action to address them. Health Canada has issued letters to multiple companies directing them to immediately remove these claims from their websites and advertising materials. These reports include a wide range of products that have been found to be associated with false and misleading claims including some masks, colloidal silver, some disinfectants, plant-based elixirs and formulas, hand sanitizers, Chaga mushroom blends, ultraviolet lamps, and oregano oil. The Government of Canada has published a list of hand sanitizers and disinfectants that meet Health Canada’s requirements, and provides guidance on the use of masks and respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department continues to monitor websites for false claims and is working with online retailers to ensure that products making unauthorized claims are removed from their websites. Health Canada is also coordinating with other government departments such as the Competition Bureau to address the issue of false and misleading claim related to COVID-19.

Selling or advertising health products that make false or misleading claims is illegal. The Department takes this issue seriously and will not hesitate to use all mechanisms and tools at its disposal to stop these activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented demand for certain health products and Health Canada is working to provide Canadians with greater access to the health products they need to help limit the spread of COVID-19. On March 18, 2020, Health Canada announced an interim measure to facilitate access to products, including hand sanitizers, hard surface disinfectants and medical devices including personal protective equipment (such as masks and gowns) and swabs. Canadians should check the online list to confirm whether the product they are purchasing has been notified to Health Canada.

What you should do

  • If you have purchased health products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19, stop using them immediately. Consult a health care professional if you have any concerns.
  • Check whether a drug or natural health product and its claims have been authorized for sale by Health Canada by looking for an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). Authorized health products can also be searched in the Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Products Database.
  • If you have any information on potential false and misleading advertising or the sale of products that have not been approved by Health Canada, report it.
  • Avoid buying health products from questionable websites. If you have questions about whether an Internet pharmacy is legitimate, contact the pharmacy regulatory authority in your province or territory.
  • Read the information Health Canada has posted on the risks of buying drugsnatural health products or medical devices online if you are considering buying health products over the Internet.
  • Report any health product adverse events to Health Canada.

More information about buying health products safely is available on Health Canada’s website.

For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19 visit Canada.ca/coronavirus.

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Health Canada
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