(UPDATED) Impostors of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) online are endorsing a milk supplement that allegedly treats diabetes. It is not true.
The PGH is not promoting any product, and the supplement — Glufarelin — is unlicensed.
The scams had similar moduses to deceive: It used the name of the national referral hospital as well as that of doctors, local and abroad, to sell the supplement.
Two such scams were published by the Facebook (FB) pages Philippine General Hospital News on April 12 and May 4 and PGH-Philippine General Hospital News on April 25.
- The posts carried links to websites (in this case, PUBLICHEALTHS.COM and doc-metromanila.shop) which use the name and logo of the PGH.
- Clicking the link leads to a blog post stating that Glufarelin, a “high-tech diabetic dairy product”, can “help stabilize blood pressure and prevent heart attack and stroke” among other feats.
- The blog post also claims that patients taking Glufarelin “will be completely cured without relapse” and will “no longer need to inject insulin and take medication.”
On FB, the links dupe netizens with thumbnails that feature counterfeit ABS-CBN quote cards. One was of a certain Dr. Neal Barnard, endocrinologist Dr. Augusto Litonjua, and the latest this May featured former Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin.
All were described as “ex-IATF advisers” and talking about “new” and “effective” ways of treating diabetes.
VERA Files Fact Check has debunked other fraudulent ads promoting the same product last year. (Read Glufarelin does NOT treat diabetes)
The PGH has disowned the circulating post.
PGH Public Affairs Coordinator Dr. Jose Jonas Del Rosario said in an April 21 Viber message to VERA Files Fact Check that the page Philippine General Hospital News is “not authorized or doesn’t represent PGH.”
The hospital’s official website is pgh.gov.ph.
ABS-CBN News also said it did not publish the quote card that erroneously listed Barnard as a former “Inter-Agency Task Force adviser.”
The media organization has also not published the graphics quoting Litonjua and Limpin.
Limpin, Barnard, a physician and a nutrition researcher, and Litonjua, founder of the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation, have not endorsed the product. Neither has the Department of Health, which the page claimed it had in the comment section.
Another version of the scam even used a video of Litonjua talking about diabetes prevention and management to claim he was endorsing Glufarelin. It was originally posted in 2018 by the Asian Hospital and Medical Center and made no reference at all to the product.
Several scam formats used
The bogus sites promise netizens discounts and ask for their personal information to purchase the product. VERA Files Fact Check has observed this red flag in other similar scams selling health products.
At least six other websites are promoting Glufarelin using the same strategy of misrepresentation, only changing the names of doctors and organizations in each version.
Other organizations used were the Manila Doctors Hospital and the National Institutes of Health. Photos and names of doctors Raul Destura, Jorge M. Garcia, Willie and Liza Ong, Jaime Dy-Liacco, Kilimanjaro Tiwaquen and Tony Leachon were also used to promote the product.
Meanwhile, other fake ads for Glufarelin featured unidentified persons in doctors’ gowns to entice netizens into buying the product.
VERA Files also fact-checked a false advertisement that promoted a different unregistered diabetes cure last week.
The post by the FB page Philippine General Hospital News (created on March 10, 2022 under the name Shop Hot) garnered 6,700 reactions, 749 comments and 1,000 shares.
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(Editor’s Note: This fact-check article was updated on May 4 and 15, 2023 to include information about the version of the scam that used the names and identities of Dr. Augusto Litonjua and Dr. Maricar Limpin.)