False Facebook adverts with millions of views have been touting a “lung cleansing syrup” for a host of diseases from asthma to pneumonia, claiming the product has been approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the FDA had earlier warned against consuming the product as it has not been tested for safety and efficacy. A pulmonologist told AFP no single medication can cure the diseases mentioned in the false posts.
"GOODBYE TO ASTHMA - PNEUMONIA - BRONCHITIS - C.O.P.D. AT HOME AFTER SEVEN DAYS," reads the text overlay on a video shared on Facebook on November 25, 2022.
The text "FDA approved" can be seen at the bottom of the video, which has been viewed more than a million times.
It shows a man in a lab coat touting a syrup called "BO PHOI TRITYDO". He claims the product can "clean the lungs".
The post's caption makes similar claims about "BO PHOI TRITYDO".
Asthma is a condition caused by the swelling of breathing tubes. It has no cure but its symptoms can be treated with inhalers or other medication.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Treatment depends on the cause.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lung's main air passages. Acute bronchitis is treated with medication, while chronic bronchitis has no cure although symptoms could be reduced through treatment.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of diseases that occur when the lungs become inflamed and damaged. There is no cure but treatment helps manage symptoms.
Screenshot of the false post taken on January 4, 2023
Comments on the posts suggest some users believed the claim and wanted to buy the product.
"Can it be taken by a 1-and-a-half-year-old baby with primary complex?" one user asked.
"I have pneumonia, is this a good replacement for maintenance drugs? I'll try this," another wrote.
The posts, however, are false.
In an advisory issued on April 11, 2022, the FDA warned against purchasing and consuming "BO PHOI TRITYDO Herbal Supplement".
It said the product had "not gone through evaluation process of the FDA".
"The agency cannot assure its quality and safety," the advisory reads.
'No cure-all medication'
Dr Mithi Zamora, a Manila-based doctor, told AFP on January 4 there is no "one-size-fits-all solution or medication" that can cure the diseases mentioned in the false posts.
"We definitely do not recommend this. There is no evidence to support its recommendation for the general public's consumption," Zamora said.
"Because we don't know this medication, we cannot tell if they also have potential side effects that can be detrimental to the consumer or the patient."