PHOENIX — How do you avoid COVID-19? Drugs, supplements and treatments linked to the virus are flooding online sites, but do they really work? Are you wasting money or worse, are you harming your health? As the Let Joe Know Team is finding out, many are stretching the truth.
One example, found in an advertising email sent by a Valley med spa saying they have a cutting edge IV therapy. At the same time, they mention COVID-19.
The email continues, comparing an anti-viral called Artemisinin - which was once used to fight Malaria - to another anti-malarial drug, Hydroxychloroquine.
The FDA has approved Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, but only on a short term basis for people who are already sick. On top of that, the Let Joe Know team unable to find any research that links that drug to Artemisinin, the drug therapy mentioned in the spa ad.
When our producer called the spa and asked about the claims, they couldn't say it would work against COVID-19, but were hopeful based on how Artemisinin has been used in the past.
The Let Joe Know team has seen an increase in ads for treatments loosely linked to the Coronavirus. Some could just be a waste of money, others could have serious consequences if taken without proper medical direction - like the Valley man who died and his wife hospitalized after overdosing on Hydroxychloroquine, hoping to prevent COVID-19.
Back to the ad linking Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-29 with their Artemisinin IV Treatment, Dr. Denise Millstein the Director of Integrative Medicine and Health at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, says drawing a connection between the two can be dangerous.
"They do both have some history of investigation to see if they've effective for treating Malaria," said Dr. Millstein, "that is where the similarities end."
In this case, Dr. Millstein says Artemisinin has side effects that could potentially suppress your immune system instead of boosting it.
"What we think is that Artemisinin doesn't actually boost your immune system in order to attack the Malaria virus. What it does is attack the malaria virus," said Dr. Millstein. " In fact, one of its mechanisms of action is to suppress the immune system."
She says that people need to consult their doctors, especially if they have any pre-existing conditions.
"We think because we can purchase it over the counter or purchase it without a prescription that it's not going to harm us, but that is a pretty common error that people make," said Dr. Millstein.
We asked the Valley med spa why they were connecting these drugs. We did not get a response by deadline.
However, a few days later they put out a new ad, with no mention of either drug. Instead it said, "there are no FDA approved treatments for COVID-19..yet!"
If you are seeing any misleading ads, got the Let Joe Know Facebook Page and let us know!