Modern face of quackery

A story in The Maui News this week described a crackdown by the Food and Drug Administration on unapproved treatments for diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that is widespread in Hawaii. Higher obesity rates across the country have led to a spike in cases of type 2 diabetes, and some unscrupulous operators are taking advantage of this epidemic.

Wednesday’s story cautioned diabetes sufferers to beware of companies selling dietary supplements espoused as cures and prescription drugs from online pharmacies that are miraculously available without prescription.

It is a modern form of quackery. While it may be a long way from the “healers” of the past who would go town to town “curing” cataracts by sticking needles in eyes and then leaving before resulting infections would often blind patients, its genesis is the same – play on the fear of a sick person to make money.

And diabetics are sick people. While symptoms may vary from the mild to the severe, left untreated the disease generally progresses. Treating oneself with “natural ingredients” or unregulated Internet drugs is a prescription for disaster.

A lot of, if not most, diabetes cases can be managed if the treatment is monitored by a health care professional. We’d caution our readers that attempting to be one’s own physician is foolish and that there are charlatans everywhere just waiting to take advantage of that impulse.

Make sure that tests for diabetes are part of your regular checkups. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, listen to your doctor. Dietary modification or drugs may be necessary, but let the doctor make that determination.

Don’t be duped into throwing your money – and your health – away.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.