Drug fakers see opportunity in flu

Leave it to spammers to make a bad situation worse: Swine flu may be spreading, but bogus anti-flu claims are spreading faster. Thanks to unscrupulous companies out to turn a buck from people's fear, in-boxes all over the world are filling up with swine-flu spam. And though so far they haven't invoked Big Pharma brands, analysts expect spammers to promise Tamiflu and Relenza soon enough.

Here's the scoop: Spammers are sending out email advertising drugs and online pharmacies. Some are peddling counterfeit drugs; links lead to what one security expert called "bottom-of-the-barrel feeders" that sell phony or adulterated meds. Others simply want recipients to open their messages and enter their credit card numbers. All in all, spam using the words "swine flu" accounted for 2 percent of all yesterday's spam. The day before? None.

Meanwhile, a McAfee researcher blogged about the spam, saying that Roche's Tamiflu is sure to have its name taken in vain once the pill sites get a chance to update. So while Roche and Glaxo scramble to boost antiviral production, their legal departments will be busy trying to put out spam fires. Thanks, guys.

- read the Computer World article