According to the FDA, however, there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.
The agencies sent the letters to the following companies: Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., N-ergetics, GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show.
“There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “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.”
“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. The FDA’s laws are designed to protect the public health by ensuring, among other things, that drugs are safe and effective for their intended uses,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.
“We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care 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,” the FDA Commissioner concluded.
In the letters, the FTC states that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated and therefore may 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, FTC may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers. Finally, they instruct the recipients to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.
In addition to following up with companies that fail to make adequate corrections, the FTC and FDA said will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces, and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies do not continue to market fraudulent products under a different name or on another website.
The FTC recently issued a new consumer blog post with information about how to identify and avoid coronavirus-related scams, and the “red flags” to be aware of when shopping for products related to the virus.