FTC Tells 50 More Marketers To Stop Making COVID-19 Claims

By Emily Field
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Law360 (May 22, 2020, 5:13 PM EDT) -- The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said that it had sent another round of warning letters to 50 more marketers telling them to stop boosting unproven claims that their products, including freeze-dried horse milk, can treat or prevent the novel coronavirus.

The letters sent by the FTC target claims made about acupuncture, homeopathic treatments, nebulizers, herbal supplements and electromagnetic shields, among others. The FTC told the companies to immediately stop making claims that their products can treat or cure COVID-19 and that if they do not, the agency may seek a federal court injunction.

Overall, the agency said in a press release, it has sent out more than 120 warning letters related to the coronavirus. The FTC has previously warned essential oil, vitamin and colloidal silver companies to stop making COVID-19 treatment claims, noting that its most recent round of warnings went to companies marketing more "esoteric" products.

One of the letters concerned iMRS 2000, an electromagnetic device touted on YouTube as a treatment for COVID-19 due to its purported ability to increase "cellular voltage." 

"Now this is really big because when your body and cells, including your immune cells, have more energy your body is going to be more resistant to any type of infection," Bryant Meyers, who claims to be a former physics professor, says in the video, according to the FTC. "So by increasing cell voltage, it's kind of like 'shields up' in 'Star Trek,' right."

According to another letter, Dr. Dale's Wellness Center in California made claims that homeopathic treatments are "the best and safest remedy against all pathogens, including the novel coronavirus."

Neither entity returned requests for comment on Friday.

Federal regulators and prosecutors have in recent weeks ramped up their enforcement efforts around bogus COVID-19 health claims, firing off warnings and cease and desist letters to companies allegedly making them. More than a half-dozen CBD companies have been snared in the effort.

In late April, the FTC struck a deal with Whole Leaf Organics, a California CBD and wellness company, to stop its marketing of vitamin C and herbal extract supplements as treatments or cures for COVID-19.

Whole Leaf is the first company to be targeted by an FTC lawsuit for false or misleading COVID-19 claims, according to the agency. If approved by a California federal court, the deal will also bar the company from marketing three CBD supplements as effective cancer treatments.

Also last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told Alex Jones and his online InfoWars store to stop selling products touted as cures or treatments for the novel coronavirus.

The FDA said that it and the FTC had checked the InfoWars website on April 6 and viewed videos boosting SuperSilver and Superblue products, such as toothpaste, as cures and treatments for COVID-19.

In one of the videos, viewers who were concerned about COVID-19 were recommended to go to the InfoWars store and "pick up a little bit of silver that really acts its way to boost your immune system and fight off infection," according to the letter.

--Additional reporting by Jack Queen. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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