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Don't Be Fooled By Health Fraud Scams

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The science of public health was still in its infancy in the 19th and early 20th centuries when early incarnations of the modern Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried to protect consumers from “snake oil salesmen” and other shifty characters who swindled the sick and gullible.

Back then the agency was known as the Division, and later the Bureau of Chemistry. Its agents pursued the traveling con men who sold tonics and elixirs—such as “miracle oil” supposedly made from snakes—with promises to cure whatever ails you. Labels did not list ingredients and unsuspecting buyers only found out through bitter experience that they were at best ineffective and at worse deadly.

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This page last modified November 30, 2015