Philippine TV segment doctored to promote unproven 'hemorrhoid cure'

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Doctored footage that appears to show a major Philippine TV show endorsing an unproven hemorrhoid treatment has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook. A representative for GMA Network, which broadcasts the show, said it did not air the segment promoting the pills, which are not listed in the Philippine Food and Drug Administration's databases of registered products.

The video has been viewed more than 900,000 times in a Facebook post shared on November 25.

The footage shows the logo for the popular Philippine news programme "24 Oras", followed by a segment from the health-focused show "Pinoy MD", in which the hosts discuss treatments for hemorrhoids.

It then shows various clips advertising Hemostop tablets to treat the condition.

"No need to go to the hospital to still cure hemorrhoids," the Facebook post reads in English.

"Say goodbye to pain caused by hemorrhoids by only taking 2 HEMOSTOP effervescent tablets daily," it adds in Tagalog.

A link that enables people to order the product online -- from 2890 pesos ($52) for two boxes -- claims it is "FDA approved".

Screenshot of the false post taken on December 6, 2022

Videos promoting the tablets have been shared in Facebook posts alongside a similar claim here, here and here.

Some Facebook users appeared to express interest in buying the pills.

"How much is this? I'd like to order," one user wrote.

"How do I order?" another asked.

However, medics warned that Hemostop pills were not a registered treatment for hemorrhoids.

Fabricated video

The video was taken from a longer "Pinoy MD" segment posted on YouTube on July 22, 2017, which does not mention Hemostop pills.

Gale Paris, the programme's manager, clarified that the show did not endorse the product.

"Pinoy MD does not promote Hemostop. The programme did not endorse nor feature the said product," she told AFP on December 16.

The "24 Oras" logo inserted at the beginning of the video did not appear in the original broadcast.

"24 Oras does not promote Hemostop," John Arrabe, assistant vice president for GMA News programmes, which broadcasts the show, told AFP on December 16.

"Whoever made this video used the logo of 24 Oras and overlaid it onto the video of Pinoy MD," he said.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the false clip (left) and the original footage (right):

A screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and the original footage (right) ( AFP)

'Not proven'

Dr Virgil Lo, a gastroenterologist from the Chinese General Hospital in Manila, said that taking effervescent tablets like Hemostop was not a proven treatment for hemorrhoids.

"The first line treatment for hemorrhoids include lifestyle and dietary modifications as follows: having a high-fibre diet and drinking at least eight glasses of water per day," he told AFP on December 16.

He also recommended taking phlebotonic drugs to "strengthen the blood vessel walls."

For severe cases of hemorrhoids, Lo said that options included surgical removal and rubber band ligation, which involves tying the base of a hemorrhoid in order to cut its blood flow.

A search for "Hemostop" on the Philippine Food and Drug Administration's databases of registered drugs and food products found no results.

AFP previously debunked posts that contain fabricated endorsements from television programmes here, here and here.