VERA FILES FACT CHECK: DOH disowns circulating FAKE story promoting unregistered hypertension ‘cure’


A Facebook (FB) page posted an article supposedly based on an interview with Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire endorsing a product that claims to treat hypertension and other blood pressure-related conditions. The website article is fabricated.

Circulated as early as June 20, the post from the site featured a photo of Vergeire with the text:

“Maria Rosario Vergeire: Ang presyon ng dugo ay lumampas sa 140/75 dahil sa pagbabara ng mga daluyan ng dugo! Ang aking payo: uminom ng 3 kutsarita ng 4% (Blood pressure exceeded 140/75 due to blockage of blood vessels! My advice: drink 3 teaspoons of 4%)…”

The link directs netizens to a write-up on a supposed interview of Vergeire published by the “Medical newspaper.” It claims that Vergeire is endorsing the product HeartKeep which “treats high blood pressure” and other “supposedly incurable diseases.”

A further promise is that taking the product from two weeks to a few months will also help “cleanse and cure blood vessels, restore internal organs and joints’ health and burn excess fats.”

This is fake. In a July 1 advisory, the Department of Health (DOH) disowned the circulating story calling it a “fabricated scenario” intended to spread false information.

“The DOH clarifies that no such scenario or statement has been made by the department and its officials,” a part of the advisory read.

SAY WHAT: Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire did not endorse a product that claims to cure hypertension and other blood pressure-related conditions. In a July 1 advisory, the Department of Health clarified that the circulating story is a “fabricated scenario” and that no such statements were issued by the DOH or its officials.

Official updates from the DOH are posted on its official website and social media channels.

HeartKeep is also not among the Food and Drug Administration’s list of registered drugs or food supplements.

Photos of Vergeire from earlier events were used in the thumbnail and website to further deceive netizens.

These scams do not only feature fabricated interviews, but also fake patient testimonies. As with other fraudulent ads debunked by VERA Files Fact Check, they also collect netizens’ personal information after promising product discounts. (Read Bogus ‘CNN Philippines’ site posts FAKE story on joint disease cure)

The posts circulated more than a week after Vergeire was appointed senior health undersecretary. The health official served as the department’s officer-in-charge before Dr. Teodoro “Ted” Herbosa was appointed Health secretary.

On July 3, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada also called for a Senate probe into the proliferation of fake advertisements of unregistered food and drug products on social media.

“There is an urgent need to protect consumers against the consumption of unregistered and potentially harmful food and health products through the strict enforcement of the provisions of the Consumer Act and regulation of fraudulent advertisements on social media platforms,” he said.

The link to the fabricated article shared by netizens garnered 2,313 interactions on FB according to the social media monitoring site CrowdTangle.


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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.)