March 11, 2020
Seven companies have been warned by federal authorities to cease selling products that claim to prevent or treat coronavirus. The products included herbal remedies and essential oils.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medication or vaccine to treat COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health note that there is no evidence that any alternative remedies can prevent or cure the virus.
“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health," Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said. "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 and the Federal Trade Commission gave the seven companies 48 hours to detail their steps to correct their claims. If the companies do not respond, the agencies will pursue legal action.
The companies that received warning letters are Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., GuruNanda LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, The Jim Bakker Show and Xephyr LLC, also known as N'ergetics.
"There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus," FTC Chairman Joe Simmons said. "What we don't need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims."
Three companies – Vital Silver, The Jim Bakker Show and N'ergetics – allegedly sold products with colloidal silver, a product that the FDA has deemed unsafe for treating any disease or condition.
Two companies, Quinessence Aromatherapy and GuruNanda, sold essential oil products. Vivify Holistic Clinic and Herbal Amy sold herbal remedies, including tea and tinctures.
False claims have swirled as the coronavirus has spread across the world. Last week, Etsy removed thousands of coronavirus-related items from its online marketplace, including those claiming to treat and prevent the virus.
The United States has more than 1,000 coronavirus cases stemming from 38 states. Thirty-one people have died. Pennsylvania has reported 15 cases, including 9 in Montgomery County, while New Jersey has recorded 23 cases, including one death.