FTC Orders 21 Companies to Stop Making COVID Claims

Male hand holding craft envelope with text WARNING on blue background, concept

FTC has ordered more than 20 marketers to immediately stop making baseless claims that their products and ‘therapies’ can treat or prevent COVID-19, according to a press release. In the cease-and-desist demands, FTC noted that violators could be hit with monetary penalties under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress last year.

“Americans are still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and scammers are still taking advantage of them by making false claims about cures and treatments,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Our efforts to stamp out those claims will continue in 2022, and any marketers not heeding our cease-and-desist demands can expect to face consequences, including civil penalties”

This is the eleventh set of warning letters issued by the FTC. The Commission has previously sent similar health-related letters to 405 companies and individuals. Most of the demands announced today were sent to companies using social media platforms to sell their products, and in those instances the agency also notified the platform of its demand.

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Companies and products that received the letters:

Infoceuticals, Imprinted Filtered Water:

IV Ozone and Vitamin C and D Therapy:

Low-dose Immunotherapy Treatments:

Nasal Irrigation Therapy:

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments:

Peptide Therapies/Vitamin Drips and Injections/Skin Care Therapies:

Supplements, Vitamins, Botanicals, Protease Inhibitors, Ivermectin, and Seaweed Extract:

Herbal Remedies, Teas, and Juices:

The Commission also sent cease-and-desist demands to four multi-level marketing companies about claims that they or their participants are making regarding the products that they sell or regarding the earnings people who have recently lost income can make. The companies in question include:

Product Claims:

Earnings Claims:

In a blog posted by FTC’s Lesley Fair, Fair noted that social media played a major role in spreading this misinformation. She pointed, for instance, to AshNu, which used its website, Facebook, and Instagram to promote its “infoceuticals”—“remedies that have been supposedly ‘imprinted’ with bio-information to correct energy distortions in the body.” The company claimed: “protocols have been developed to destroy the coronavirus directly. We know the resonance frequency of the virus RNA and calculated the exact frequencies to kill it.”

Austin Compounding Pharmacy, too, used social media, promoting its claim that: “Taking Ivermectin once a week will decrease your risk of infection and reduce the severity if you do contract COVID-19” and “No one needs to die. Ivermectin does work.”

Some of the noted claims came from a YouTube video—Fair pointed to Han Institute and Dr. Angelica Kokkalis, who stated in a video: “If you or a loved one is infected with Covid19, Wei Labs has the best Chinese herbal medicine to offer.”

It’s further worth noting that preliminary research counts as a claim when used to sell products, even if the research is real. For instance, FTC took issue with claims from Seaweed & Co., including a Twitter post claiming that “[i]n a test of antiviral effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19, an extract from edible #seaweeds substantially outperformed remdesivir, the current standard antiviral used to combat the disease,” and a Facebook post stating “Initial research shows oral application of vitamin D3 reduced COVID-19 ICU admission from 50% to 2%.”

The full blog and list of claims can be found here.