health-related fact checks

FACT CHECK: Fake CNN interview of influencer Doc Alvin used in ‘joint pain cure’ ad

Rappler.com

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FACT CHECK: Fake CNN interview of influencer Doc Alvin used in ‘joint pain cure’ ad
Healthnation-asia.com imitates the CNN Philippines website and ​​falsely claims the endorsement of medical content creator Dr. Alvin Francisco for the product MaxiFlex

Claim: Medical content creator Dr. Alvin Francisco, also known as Doc Alvin on social media, endorses MaxiFlex, a product that claims to treat joint problems.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was sent to Rappler through email for fact-checking. The claim is based on an article supposedly published on the CNN Philippines website on February 2, showing an alleged interview of Francisco conducted by television host Boy Abunda. 

The article is titled: “BREAKING NEWS! Professor Alvin Francisco discovered a solution to permanently eliminate joint and back pain in just two weeks!”

Francisco is a radiology resident known for making health-related videos online. As of writing, he has 4 million followers on Facebook, 2.1 million on TikTok, 895,000 on YouTube, and 199,000 on Instagram.

The facts: Francisco had earlier debunked the supposed article in a post on his official Facebook page on October 3, 2023, saying: “Babala: fake news ito. Wala nga akong lunas sa kirot na iniwan ng jowa, sa kirot ng arthritis pa kaya.” (Beware: this is fake news. I have no cure for the pain left by a partner, let alone the pain of arthritis.) 

Fake website: The article in question was not published on CNN Philippines’ official website but on healthnation-asia.com. The page merely shows the logo of CNN Philippines to mimic the news site.

Additionally, the authors mentioned in the article are journalists for CNN International. Radina Gigova is a multimedia journalist based in Atlanta, Georgia, while Amarachi Orie is a freelance journalist who writes for CNN International.

Shutdown of CNN Philippines: The fake article, dated February 5, 2024, could not have been published on the CNN Philippines website as the news organization’s website and social media presence were erased following its closure on January 31. 

On January 29, CNN Philippines said it would discontinue operations following “significant financial losses sustained over the past years, despite rigorous efforts to adapt and innovate in a rapidly evolving and challenging media landscape.” Since operations began in 2015, the company has accumulated losses exceeding P5 billion. (READ: CNN Philippines and its financial troubles)

Unregistered with FDA: The Food and Drug Administration does not list MaxiFlex among its registered drug or cosmetic products. 

Fact-checked: Rappler debunked a similar false claim in December 2023. The misleading post advertised a different unregistered product and used the same website, script, and photographs of Francisco.

Previous fact-checks: Rappler has fact-checked various health-related claims touting the treatment and prevention of ailments like diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. These misleading posts typically include the names or photographs of celebrities and medical professionals:

– 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.

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