Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Illegal Home Diagnostic Test Kits

Periodically, the US FDA sends out e-mail alerts regarding dangerous consumer products.  Today they sent such an alert, this time citing test kits that are claimed to enable a person to self-diagnose HIV, syphilis, and -- of all things -- dengue fever.  They also sold home pregnancy tests. The kits are not produced by an authorized manufacturer, have not been FDA approved, and may not work as advertised.  In fact, there is no technology that enables one to diagnose HIV, syphilis, or dengue fever at home.  They were sold on the Internet, from a site in Canada.  The Canadian government is investigating, and the FDA has instructed customs officials to intercept any shipments from the company, Globus Media.  A detailed report is on Medscape (free registration required).

The websites offering the kits have been shut down.  However, until the perpetrators are caught or go into hiding somewhere (preferably somewhere cold, wet, and stinky) they might open another outlet somewhere. 

My point is not so much to alert people to this particular criminal operation, but rather to remind people to be careful about ordering medical products on the Internet.  Also, I mention it because of their inclusion of a dengue fever test.  That seems to make no sense. Sure, there's an outbreak right now in Malaysia and Singapore, but how many of those people are going to be ordering test kits from a Canadian website?  Maybe Globus Media thought that the inclusion of a product for dengue fever would make their other products seem more credible.