In Times of Public Health Crisis, Vulnerable Consumers Look to Us for Sound Advice

Mark Land, AAHP President

I have experienced many infectious disease crises thus far in my lifetime and each one was characterized by fear and uncertainty. I can remember my parents getting all of us into the car in and taking us to the hospital for immunizations against the 1968 Hong Kong flu. My older cousin was there so I had to act brave when the nurse put the injector to my arm. Now looking back on that time, I realize the concern my parents had for our safety and the reliance they placed in the public health service.


Following the Hong Kong flu was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a hotel in my city of Philadelphia, the 1976 swine flu, then SARS, H1N1, and now COVID-19. In all of these cases concern ran high among parents and public health officials. Infectious disease is menacing because the threat is invisible with unknown infectivity or lethality. Under these concerns, individuals may feel helpless or fearful for themselves, their children or elderly relatives.


In these circumstances, consumers are particularly vulnerable to the virus as well as also being susceptible to advertisements touting claims of treatment and prevention. Therefore, as always, we all have a special responsibility to minimize risks of misleading consumers. AAHP’s position on COVID-19 was published on Feb. 12, 2020: AAHP Pharmacists Support CDC Recommendations for Coronavirus. Take the time to read and understand our Association’s position on this challenging crisis.


On March 10, FTC and FDA published a list of seven warning letters they sent to marketers making or implying treatment or prevention of COVID-19 symptoms: Coronavirus Update: FDA and FTC Warn Seven Companies Selling Fraudulent Products that Claim to Treat or Prevent COVID-19. Read and understand the implications of these warning letters for your own products and marketing techniques.


Consumers of our products are our most important responsibility. Their health deserves our deepest respect.