FDA, FTC warn 7 companies selling fraudulent products that claim to prevent, fight coronavirus

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVD) -- The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to seven companies for selling fraudulent products intended to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The letters were issued to Vital Silver; Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.; Xephyr, LLC (also known as N-Ergetics); GuruNanda, LLC; Vivify Holistic Clinic; Herbal Amy, LLC; and The Jim Bakker Show. The products are mostly tea, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver.

RELATED: Dow drops 1,500 points as oil price plunge shocks markets amid COVID-19 fears

According to a news release from the FDA, the agency issued a previous warning that colloidal silver, a mixture of tiny silver particles dissolved in liquid, is not safe or effective as a treatment for any disease.

"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," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., in a written statement. "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."

RELATED: Timeline: How coronavirus got started



"There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in a written statement. "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 companies had to respond in 48 hours describing the specific steps they have taken to correct the violations. Companies that sell products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction.

ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson said consumers need to be wary of any products advertised on social media and online marketplaces, as the FDA said companies often continue to sell fraudulent products under a different company name or on another website.

The FDA warned that using any of these products that claim to help may lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other potentially serious diseases and conditions.

There are currently no approved vaccines or drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands thoroughly and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing as the best prevention for the novel coronavirus.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:
Coronavirus fears cause gas prices to dip below $2 a gallon in parts of NC
Families enjoy LEGO convention despite coronavirus concerns
How American airlines are cleaning planes in response to new coronavirus outbreak
100+ products that may help protect you against novel coronavirus germs
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.