Last week, we reported that the Federal Trade Commission sued Golden Sunrise Neutraceutical and two of its officers for falsely advertising its "Emergency D-Virus Plan" as a cure for COVID-19. Earlier this week, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California granted the FTC a temporary restraining order, barring the marketer from making these COVID-19 treatment claims.
The FTC charged the defendants with making false COVID-19 treatment claims on billboards, websites, and social media. The FTC alleged that the company falsely promoted its supplements as being “uniquely qualified to treat and modify the course of the Coronavirus epidemic in CHINA and other countries” and that users of the supplements can expect the “disappearance of viral symptoms within two to four days.”
The court noted that the Golden Sunrise's treatment plan consists mainly of "common herbs and spices," such as olive leaf extract, yarrow extract, turmeric extract, cayenne extract, eucalyptus extract, and mistletoe!
In order to support these types of health claims, a marketer is required to have competent and reliable scientific evidence. The court granted the TRO, finding that the FTC had met its burden to show probable success on the merits, in light of the fact that defendants "completely lack the requisite substantiation."
When I blogged about this case last week, I wrote about the fact that if you get a warning letter from the FTC, it's best not to ignore it, as the marketer did here. As the court's decision explains even further, if you get a warning letter from the FTC, which you don't respond to, and then the FTC calls you and tells you to stop, and then, after reviewing your substantiation, e-mails you and tells you again to stop, it's probably actually a good idea to stop.