The Federal Trade Commission announced that it sent another fifty warning letters telling marketers to stop making claims that their products can prevent or treat COVID-19. The FTC targeted a wide range of products, such as Chinese herbal supplements, acupuncture, homeopathic treatments, nebulizers, and ozone, IV, and other therapies.
The FTC went after product claims made in a variety of media, including on company websites, on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, in podcasts, and through affiliate marketing.
The letters explain that, before making health claims, marketers should have"competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made." The FTC also told the marketers to respond within forty-eight hours, explaining what action they have taken to address the FTC's concerns.
The FTC targeted some marketers that were promoting their products as being able to directly take on COVID-19. For example, the FTC told Dr. Dale's Wellness Center to stop marketing its ALLFLU product as a COVID-19 cure. For example, Dr. Dale's Wellness Center claimed, "ALLFLU, which is homeopathic pellets taken orally for any kind of flu, it’s FDA-registered, and it’s updated every year with the latest flu, and it covers all flu symptoms from MERS, SARS, influenza, coronaviruses, from fever, coughing, respiratory issues . . . ."
The FTC targeted other marketers that promoted their products as being able to boost consumers' immune systems, to better protect them from getting COVID-19. For example, the FTC told Dr. Jill Carnahan to stop promoting that, "Supplements are one of the most potent ways to give your body a boost and drastically improve its ability to fight off infection." In particular, the FTC told Dr. Carnaham to stop promoting N-Acetyl Cysteine, Liposomal Glutathione, Vitamin D3, and probiotics as products that prvent consumers from being infected with COVID-19.
The FTC is taking unprecedented efforts to reach out to marketers, large and small, if they are making false claims that their products or therapies will prevent or treat COVID-19. The FTC previously explained that it's using warning letters as a first line of defense against these types of claims because, "given the scope of the scams out there right now, we want to get the best and fastest results we can with the most efficient tool we have." The FTC has made it clear, however, that if marketers don't comply, the FTC will take further action. Last month, the FTC brought its first coronavirus-related lawsuit, suing Whole Leaf Organics for promoting its products as a COVID-19 cure.
"The warning letters remind recipients that because no study is currently known to exist that substantiates their COVID-19 representations, they 'must immediately cease making all such claims'" -- Lesley Fair on the FTC's "Business Blog"