VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong DID NOT endorse anti-arthritis supplement

A Facebook (FB) video used a clip of cardiologist and social media personality Doc Willie Ong to claim that he endorsed an anti-arthritis supplement called Arthriheal. Not true.

Posted by the FB page Reinvigorate on May 18, part of the video played a seven-second clip from one of Ong’s vlog posts while a male narrator said: “Inendorso ito ng doktor na sikat sa pagbibigay payo tungkol sa iba’t ibang uri ng sakit, ito ang Arthriheal (Endorsed by a doctor famous for giving advice about different types of illnesses, this is Arthriheal).” 

This was denied by Dr Liza Ramoso-Ong, wife of the popular doctor who ran as vice president in the last elections. 

Lahat ng makita mo sa Lazada, Facebook, mga gamot, cream, fake news lahat ‘yon. Hindi sila nagpapaalam, ginagamit yung picture namin, video namin, icro-crop nila… para maka-sell sila. Basta selling, never kami magpapa-sell sa aming followers. Wala kaming ine-endorse,” she told VERA Files Fact Check via phone call. 

(Everything you see on Lazada, Facebook, medicines, creams [we allegedly endorsed], that’s all fake news. They don’t ask for permission. They crop and use our videos and photos… to sell [their products.] We never sell [health products] to our followers. We do not endorse).

In a health advisory issued last April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines warned people not to purchase and consume four food supplements, including Arthriheal, which the false advertisement claimed to be an effective medicine against arthritis and gout. 

“Since these unregistered food supplements and food product(s) have not gone through [the] evaluation process of the FDA, the agency cannot assure its quality and safety,” the advisory read.

The four-minute video used portions of a four-minute clip from an episode of ABS-CBN’s health show Salamat Dok about gouty arthritis that was first uploaded on YouTube on Sept. 1, 2019. 

It is misleading. Salamat Dok’s original episode featured Ramon Salas, captain of Brgy. Immaculate Conception, Quezon City, who endorsed another medicine for relieving symptoms of gout and pain. 

In the health advertisement posted by Reinvigorate, parts of the Salamat Dok episode were cut, and rearranged to make it look like Salas was endorsing Arthriheal in a commercial.

Cursory search shows that a product called Arthriheal is marketed online as a “uric acid cleanse [sic] & joint support” to prevent arthritis attacks. Aside from testimonials and certificates appearing on the website, VERA Files Fact Check could not verify the supplement’s efficacy. 

The false advertisement video posted by Reinvigorate garnered 232,000 views, 2,200 reactions, 1,100 comments, mostly from netizens asking how much the product is. 

Aside from the video, FB page Reinvigorate (created on May 18, 2022) has not posted any other content except a profile and a cover photo.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)