VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong NOT endorsing hemorrhoid cream

A Facebook (FB) page has again used the name and face of cardiologist and social media personality Dr. Willie Ong, this time, to promote a hemorrhoid cream. It is bogus marketing.

The quote card appeared online on July 3 and was created as if published by The Philippine Star. It featured an image of Ong juxtaposed with this statement: 

Masakit at di kumportable ang may almoranas. HEMOCARE lang ang mairerekomenda dyan wala ng iba. Maaaring mauwi sa colon cancer pag di naagapan kaya dapat agad yang solusyunan.”

(Hemorrhoids are painful and uncomfortable. I only recommend using Hemocare and nothing else. It may lead to colon cancer, so it needs immediate treatment.)

To make it appear credible, also superimposed on the graphic was the logo of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the picture of the product labeled with Chinese characters.

In an Aug. 3 text message to VERA Files Fact Check, Ong disowned the graphic and said he was not endorsing any product. “It is fake news,” Ong said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Dr. Liza Ramoso-Ong, wife of the former vice presidential candidate, previously told VERA Files Fact Check that anyone claiming they are endorsing or selling any health products are using their names without consent. (Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong DID NOT endorse anti-arthritis supplement)

The Philippine Star also never made such a graphic; neither did they carry this in any of the daily’s social media accounts.

While a drug with the brand name “Hemocare” is registered with the FDA, it is a medication to control bleeding, not a hemorrhoid cream.

A cursory and reverse image search showed that the cream in the circulating graphic was also previously marketed as “Zudaifu Hemorrhoid Cream” in e-commerce sites. The product, however, is not listed in the FDA’s Verification Portal, which lists all food and drugs with certificates of product registration.

The fake graphic was published by FB page HemoCare PH (created on July 2) and continues to gain traction this week, receiving more than 308,300 recent views, according to FB. It has also garnered more than 11,000 reactions, 5,300 comments and 460 shares.

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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.)