Senate investigation sought into fake endorsements for unregistered meds, supplements

(PHILSTAR) MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is calling for Senate hearings into false advertising for food and supplements that claim endorsements by doctors and online personalities to sell these products.

Estrada said in a press release that he filed Senate Resolution No. 666 in response to the “alarming proliferation” of ads and fake social media accounts that use the names and pictures of personalities and celebrities to sell unregistered and unproven cures for ailments like diabetes.

“These advertisements mislead consumers into believing that these celebrities are using and endorsing food and medicinal products that are actually unregistered before the proper health authorities and not yet approved for mass distribution and public consumption,” he said.

PressONE.PH published a fact check last week on claims on a website imitating that of CNN Philippines claiming cardiologist and healthcare reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon had discovered a cure for joint and back pain. Leachon in June said he was not affiliated with the site or the product being sold.

The Department of Health in May warned the public of a fake hypertension cure that was being promoted with alleged endorsement by celebrity doctor Dr. Willie Ong, adding the online ad “is not in any way affiliated, approved or recommended by the health department and its attached agencies.”

Estrada on Monday said: “There is an urgent need to protect consumers against the consumption of unregistered and potentially harmful food and health products through the strict enforcement of the provisions of the Consumer Act and regulation of fraudulent advertisements on social media platforms.”

News service AFP’s fact checkers have also been exposing cases of fake endorsements being used to sell unregistered and unproven products, and to push propaganda.

“The trend underscores how medical professionals are often sitting targets for online scammers seeking to profit off disinformation, which leaves their reputations tarnished, provokes harassment and, in some cases, legal challenges,” AFP reported on Sunday.