Fact checks on health products and scams

FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong video promoting varicose veins cream is fake


This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

FACT CHECK: Doc Willie Ong video promoting varicose veins cream is fake
The misleading ad for the unregistered cream uses audio and video from Ong’s official Facebook and YouTube accounts

Claim: Cardiologist and online health personality Dr. Willie Ong, popularly known as Doc Willie, endorses Varicose Veins Cream, a product that claims to treat varicose veins. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook video bearing the claim has 220,000 views, 1,700 reactions, and 847 comments as of writing. 

The video uses a clip of Ong talking about varicose veins, spliced with visuals of the product being used as a treatment. 

It was posted by a Facebook page posing as the official account of Ong and his wife, Liza Ong, with 77 followers and 34 likes as of writing. 

The post includes a link to a website for interested buyers to purchase the product. The website includes photos of the Ong couple to make it look like they endorse the product. 

The facts: Ong does not endorse the product. The misleading ad splices a video clip from Ong’s official Facebook page together with audio taken from another video uploaded on Ong’s YouTube channel to make it appear like he is discussing varicose veins and promoting the cream as a supposed treatment.

The video insert of Ong seen in the misleading ad was taken from a video posted on May 7, 2023. The original video is unrelated to varicose veins and how to treat them. Instead, it shows Ong telling doctors, his colleagues, and patients not to believe fake ads that use his videos and photos. 

A closer look at the ad shows Ong’s mouth movements do not match the audio. The original audio came from his video on varicose veins uploaded to YouTube on August 29, 2022.

Not FDA registered: Varicose Veins Cream is not on the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s list of approved drug products.

The sale and distribution of unauthorized health products is strictly prohibited under Republic Act No. 9711, also known as the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009. Before making a purchase, the FDA suggests using its verification portal to check product registration status.

Treatment for varicose veins: Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that can cause pain and discomfort, often appearing on the legs and feet. They are caused by weak or damaged vein valves, causing blood to pool and the veins to become enlarged.

According to medical professionals, creams and topical products are not an effective treatment for varicose veins. Medical treatment options include sclerotherapy (injecting a saline or chemical solution), endovenous laser therapy, and the surgical procedure microphlebectomy.  

Previous false claims: Ong’s name and videos have been used in countless advertisements for health products without his knowledge or permission. Ong has repeatedly denounced the bogus ads, reiterating in an email to Rappler and in an April 2023 video that he and his wife do not endorse any product other than Birch Tree Advance, a nutritional milk for seniors.

Rappler has fact-checked similar fake ads about the Ong couple:

Chinie Ann Jocel R. Mendoza/Rappler.com

Chinie Ann Jocel R. Mendoza 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.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!