I was consulted recently for a patient with advanced HIV disease who was admitted with pneumonia. She is stable with her disease, but her immune system is suboptimal. The CD4's, for those of you in the know, are hovering around 100. Her father and husband developed an upper respiratory infection and she had to take care of them both

She knew that she needed to protect herself from acquiring their illness so she took Airborne.

​And, surprise, surprise, she went on to develop first fevers, then a cough, then shortness of breath, then an admission to the ICU for pneumonia with a touch of sepsis.

I have written about Airborne in the past. There is no reason, besides the fact it was invented by a school teacher, that it would have any effect what-so-ever in preventing infection.

As the Medical Letter mentioned

There are some concerns. First, there is no conclusive evidence that this product or any of its ingredients prevents colds or shortens their duration. Second, the adult tablet contains 1 g of vitamin C, and the directions for use advise taking 1 tablet at the first sign of a cold and repeating the dose every 3 hours as necessary. Vitamin C in doses higher than 1 g increases oxalate and urate excretion and may cause kidney stones (EN Taylor et al, J Am Soc Nephrol 2004; 15:3225). Third, the safety of this herbal extraction combination has not been established. And with herbs and dietary supplements in general, we only have the manufacturers' word on the label for what's in them.

and why they paid a 30 million dollar fine to the FTC:

"there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims made by the defendants that Airborne tablets can prevent or reduce the risk of colds, sickness, or infection; protect against or help fight germs; reduce the severity or duration of a cold; and protect against colds, sickness, or infection in crowded places such as airplanes, offices, or schools."

But as long as these products contain the quack Miranda and are unregulated they can and will be sold to people who think they have efficacy even if the label says "This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease," just support the immune system, a phase that always inspires confidence.

I suspect that she would have acquired the infection no matter what she did. My speciality is called Infectious diseases for a reason. But she may have been better off spending her money on a mask and good handwashing rather than the false sense of security evident in the use of Airborne. And a false sense of security tends to cause people to be less fastidious.

One of the many ways pseudo-medicines can harm.

Points of Interest: 2/20/2014
Points of Interest 2/19/2014

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