Doctored video touting unproven diabetes treatment circulates online in the Philippines

·3 min read

A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times that appears to show a Philippine news report touting a herbal supplement for diabetics as an alternative to using insulin. However, the video has been doctored from a report about diabetic Filipinos to insert references to the supplement. Doctors told AFP there was "no evidence" that such supplements can treat diabetes in humans or replace their insulin treatments.

The doctored video has been viewed more than 100,000 times after it was shared on Facebook on July 21.

It purports to show a news segment from TV Patrol -- a nightly news programme on Philippine television channel ABS-CBN.

The clip begins with journalist Pinky Webb saying: "People with diabetes are getting younger and younger. And from the recent World Diabetes Day, here are some tips to prevent the deadly disease."

It then cuts to footage of a man dressed in a white lab coat talking about complications related to diabetes, before cutting to two purported diabetics advertising herbal supplements named "HA AN DUONG PLUS".

The post's Tagalog-language caption translates in part as: "Let go of your reliance on insulin. Use twice a day to have long-term, stable blood sugar levels."

Screenshot of misleading post taken on August 2, 2022

Diabetes is a chronic illness which results in patients suffering from elevated blood sugar levels that can damage their organs over time.

The condition occurs when the body does not make enough insulin -- a hormone that helps digest sugar for energy -- or cannot use insulin as well as it should.

Human insulin shots are usually prescribed to diabetes patients to control high blood sugar.

The same video was also viewed more than 120,000 times here and here alongside a similar claim on Facebook.

The posts, however, are false.

'No evidence'

"There is no evidence that these herbal supplements can help with diabetes," Dr. Princess Landicho-Kanapi, an endocrinologist from the Makati Medical Center hospital, told AFP.

"They usually put the phrase 'no approved therapeutic claims' in their packaging which means they have not been proven effective in treating the disease," she said.

Dr. Mia Fojas, an associate professor of biochemistry from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, separately told AFP that the claim in the posts is not supported by scientific evidence.

"That's the reason it's called a supplement because it has never undergone any clinical trials that can prove its efficacy," she told AFP.

According to the global nonprofit International Insulin Foundation: "Insulin injections must be administered daily throughout the life of the patient. Dosage of insulin injected by the patient varies from person to person based on age, nutritional status and activity."

The US National Library of Medicine advises against stopping use of human insulin without talking to their doctor.

Multiple keyword searches on the Philippine Food and Drug Administration's website did not find a registration for the "HA AN DUONG PLUS" product advertised in the posts.

Doctored video

Further keyword searches on Google also found the original news report was posted by Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN on its official YouTube channel in November 2014.

ABS-CBN's logo was covered and replaced with different text at the bottom of the report.

The inset photo on the left-hand side of the video was also changed to an unrelated Reuters image of people queuing to vote in the May 2022 elections in the Philippines.

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

The false post used the first ten seconds of the two-minute news report, before cutting to other clips related to the herbal supplement.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the scene at the 15-second mark of the doctored video (left) and the original report (right):

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