Two federal agencies have issued warning letters to seven companies to stop selling products that claim to treat or prevent COVID-19, a disease that has killed at least 22 people in the U.S.
The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission said the letters were issued because the products are unapproved and pose a “significant risk” to patient health.
The products include essential oils, teas, tinctures and colloidal silver, a liquid made with tiny silver particles that is promoted as a dietary supplement but can cause serious side effects.
“There is already a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” said FTC chairman Joe Simons. “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.”
Many of the companies that received letters claim to specialize in homeopathic remedies.
One of the letters was sent to The Jim Bakker Show, a one-hour syndicated show hosted by Jim Bakker, a televangelist convicted of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud in the 1980s.
According to the agencies, The Jim Bakker Show claimed a product named Silver Solution could eliminate strains of the coronavirus. The two agencies wrote that the claims on the show’s website misleadingly represent them as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
The companies could face further legal action and could be responsible for paying restitution to customers if they do not stop selling the misleading products.
The FDA said there are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19.
At least four people in Indiana have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most Americans have a low risk of being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The CDC recommends people wash their hands often with soap and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
You can read more CDC prevention tips here.