FDA, FTC Issue Warning Letters to 7 Companies for Coronavirus Claims

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Silver Spring, MD—The FDA and FTC issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products, according to a press announcement from FDA. The warning letters are the first to be issued by FDA for unapproved products intended to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

FDA, the release says, is concerned that products claiming to cure, treat, or prevent serious diseases like COVID-19 may cause consumers to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment.

The letters were issued to Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., Xephyr LLC doing business as N-Ergetics, GuruNanda LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show. The products cited in the letters are teas, essential oils, tinctures, and colloidal silver. The FDA and FTC have given the companies 48 hours to respond and describe the specific steps they have taken to correct the violations.

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FDA and FTC will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces, and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies do not continue to sell fraudulent products under a different company name or on another website. An FDA cross-agency task force has been established and dedicated to closely monitoring for fraudulent products related to COVID-19. The task force has reached out to major retailers to ask for their help in monitoring their online marketplaces to remove more than three dozen listings of fraudulent COVID-19 products.

FDA notes in their press release that there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19. There are investigational vaccines and treatments under development, but the products are in the early stages of product development and have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., said in the release: “The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one. We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their healthcare providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable.”

FTC Chairman Joe Simons added: “There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus. What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims. These warning letters are just the first step. We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”

Companies that sell products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19 may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction.