As expected, the Federal Trade Commission continues to aggressively police scams related to COVID-19. The FTC has recently announced that ten (10) new warning letters have been sent to companies domestically and abroad with respect to alleged unsubstantiated claims that their products can treat or prevent coronavirus disease.
According to the FTC, the recipients sell items such as purported anti-virus kits and other alleged therapies. Some letters challenge products sold online, others purported treatments offered in clinics or even at a consumer’s home. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently stated that there are currently no products that are scientifically proven to treat or prevent the virus.
“It’s shameful to take advantage of people by claiming that a product prevents, treats, or cures COVID-19,” said FTC defense lawyer Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We’re seeing these false claims for all sorts of products, but anyone who makes them simply has no proof and is likely just after your money.”
The FTC has previously sent warning letters to the sellers of supplements such as colloidal silver, teas, essential oils, and other products pitched as scientifically proven coronavirus treatments. The most recent round of warnings address a wider variety of products, including:
“Corona Virus Immune System Boost COVID-19,” described in ads as providing users with “Advanced Rife Healing Frequencies” developed by “The Man Who Cured Cancer.” The system supposedly uses sound frequencies to penetrate the cells “thousands of times more than chemical information”;
The “Face Vital Sonic Silicone Facial Brush,” marketed as able to “fight off Coronavirus” by “Ramping Up Your Beauty and Cleansing Regimen,” to keep your hands and face clean;
“PuraTHRIVE Liposomal Vitamin C,” marketed with claims such as, “…Experts in the field are suggesting that regular dosing of Vitamin C could help to prevent the Coronavirus” and “The Coronavirus can be dramatically slowed or stopped completely with the immediate widespread use of high doses of Vitamin C”; and
Intravenously (IV) administered solutions with names such as “Immunity Boost” IV drips, the “Myers’ Cocktail IV package,” and “High Dose Vitamin C Plus Immune Booster,” the latter of which was advertised on both Facebook and Instagram.
In the letters, FTC lawyers state that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated because they are not supported by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act. The letters advise the recipients to immediately cease making all claims that their products can treat or cure coronavirus.
The letters note that if the false claims do not cease, the FTC may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers. The letters also instruct the recipients to notify the FTC within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.
The recent warnings are the latest round of warnings the FTC has sent to sellers of products pitched as able treat or prevent coronavirus. The FTC and FDA have jointly issued more than twenty-five (25) warning letters to entities selling products including homeopathic drugs, cannabinol (CBD) products, essential oils, colloidal silver, traditional Chinese medicine, and salt therapy.
Contact an experienced FTC defense lawyer if you or your company have received a civil investigative demand (CID) or have been named in an enforcement action initiated by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC also recently sent warning letters to a number of VoIP providers about the provision of unlawful assistance relating to the transmission of pre-recorded telemarketing robocalls pitching supposed coronavirus-related products or services.
Richard B. Newman is an FTC defense attorney at Hinch Newman LLP. Follow him on Twitter @FTC defense attorney and on Facebook at @FTC defense lawyer.
Informational purposes only. Not legal advice. May be considered attorney advertising.