Philippine doctors warn against using unregistered product that posts claim can cure eye problems
Facebook posts shared hundreds of times claim doctors in the Philippines have endorsed a brand of eye drops that can allegedly "solve all eye problems". This is false: the posts show a fabricated medical endorsement for an unregistered product. A representative for the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology told AFP no single medication can "solve all eye problems".
A website link for a product called "Shiliwangxiongdanye Healthy Eye Care" has been shared more than 900 times on Facebook since May 18.
The link's thumbnail shows a group of people identified as the "Philippine Ophthalmological Association". They are shown holding up a sign that says: "97% cure rate / Safe and effective".
Text overlaid on the thumbnail states: "Eye problems are all solved! 90-year-old eyes still look new!"
The text "FDA Approved" is also shown in the image.
However, multiple keyword searches on the Philippine FDA's registered products database did not find any listing for "Shiliwangxiongdanye Healthy Eye Care" as of September 15.
The website for medication lists a host of conditions that it can supposedly treat.
These include cataracts that in fact can only be removed through surgery; glaucoma which cannot be cured or reversed; and myopia or short-sightedness which can only be corrected through laser or wearing lenses.
Comments on the posts suggested some users believed the claims and were interested in purchasing the product.
"How can I order? My doctor advised me to undergo cataract surgery of my right eye but due to limited budget, I can't have my operation," one wrote.
Another commented: "I already ordered two bottles, hopefully my eyes will be cured. I have blurred vision."
The claim in the posts, however, is false.
The "Philippine Ophthalmological Association" mentioned in the circulating posts is "a non-existent entity", according to the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO).
In a statement released on September 2, the organisation said the PAO is "the only national organisation of Filipino eye doctors" in the Philippines.
It added the organisation "does not approve, recommend, endorse or support the use" of the product featured in the posts.
Keyword searches did not find evidence about the existence of either the "International Society of Ophthalmology" or the "Japanese Eye Clinic".
A reverse image search on Google found the photos used in the posts show medical personnel in various hospitals in Thailand's capital Bangkok.
None of the images show doctors endorsing the product.
The first photo was posted on the website of Bangkok Hospital Khon Kaen. It shows hospital officials accepting a donation of one million Thai baht ($27,278) on October 1, 2019.
The second photo was published on April 16, 2020 on the website of Bangkok Hospital Pattaya in an announcement about the hospital's newly acquired technology to help diagnose Covid-19 patients.
The third photo was found on the website for Bangkok Hospital Phuket on a page about its "Women's Health Center".
'No miracle cure'
Responding to the posts, PAO president Vicente Ocampo Jr told AFP on September 10: "In as much as we want an eye drop to be a "one drop heals all", it is sadly not the reality. There is no miracle drop.
"Each problem warrants a different treatment, not just one treatment."