Fact checks on health products and scams

FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong not endorsing unregistered gout ointment


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FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong not endorsing unregistered gout ointment
The ad uses a 2021 clip of Ong giving medical advice for gouty arthritis. Ong does not mention the product ‘ZB Gout Ointment Cream’ in the original video.

Claim: Cardiologist and online health personality Dr. Willie Ong, popularly known as Doc Willie, endorses ZB Gout Ointment Cream, a product claimed to cure gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and other body pains. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: Several versions of the claim have been shared on Facebook. One such post came from the page “Rayuma/Gout Ointment Store,” which posted a video that has received over 46,000 reactions, 15,000 likes, and over 5 million views as of writing. Other similar versions of the claim came from a page that has 175 likes and 253 followers. 

The ads used by these Facebook pages feature a video clip of Ong talking about gout as well as pictures of him with his wife, Liza Ong, to make it seem like they are endorsing the product. Some posts also included stickers that say “doctor-recommended” and the logo of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the text “approved.”

The facts:  Ong does not endorse ZB Gout Ointment Cream. The video clip of Ong used in one of the misleading ads was originally from a December 25, 2021 video posted on his official YouTube account.

In the original video, Ong offered medical advice to treat gouty arthritis, but he did not mention ZB Gout Ointment Cream.

Ong also previously told Rappler in an email that Birch Tree Advance, a nutritional milk for seniors made by Century Pacific Foods, is the only product he and his wife endorse. 

Not FDA-registered: On December 12, 2022, the FDA warned the public against the purchase and use of the unregistered drug product ZB Gout Ointment Cream. 

The agency said that “consumption of such violative products may pose potential danger or injury to health,” and that the FDA cannot ensure the product’s “quality, safety, and efficacy” since it did not go through the agency’s registration process and was not issued a Certificate of Product Registration.

Under Republic Act No. 9711, otherwise known as the “Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009,” the sale of health products without authorization from the FDA is prohibited.

Previous false claims: Rappler has fact-checked similar claims of products using Ong in false advertisements:

–  Larry Chavez/Rappler.com

Larry Chavez is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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