Almost 400 sellers and marketers who received FTC warning letters have pulled unsubstantiated claims in the last year
The Federal Trade Commission announced that 30 more marketers nationwide have stopped making unsubstantiated claims that their products and therapies can prevent or treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The marketers removed these claims after receiving FTC warning letters citing the agency’s new civil penalty authority under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act.
This is the tenth set of warning letters the FTC has announced as part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health-related COVID-19 scams. In all, the Commission has sent similar letters to almost 400 companies and individuals.
Some of the actions involved products and “treatments” the FTC warned companies about previously, including intravenous (IV) Vitamin C infusions, ozone therapy, peptide therapy, and supplements. Others involved more obscure products and therapies that were promoted to prevent or treat COVID-19. For example, warning letters went to companies claiming that everything from exercise therapy, iodine, and infrared saunas can fight the disease. However, currently there is no scientific evidence that these products or services can prevent or treat the COVID-19.
In the letters, the FTC states that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated because they are not supported by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act. The letters advise the recipients to immediately stop making all claims that their products can prevent or treat COVID-19, and to notify the Commission within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.
Letters issued this year warn the recipients of the FTC’s new authority to seek civil penalties under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act. Violators who make deceptive claims related to the treatment, cure, or prevention of COVID-19 are subject to penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.
As the FTC stated recently in Congressional testimony, the Commission is determined to pursue swift enforcement action against those who do not comply. Just this month, the FTC charged St. Louis-based chiropractor Eric Anthony Nepute and his company Quickwork LLC with violating the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act, by deceptively marketing products containing vitamin D and zinc as scientifically proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. It was the first case the FTC has brought under the new law.
The actions announced today involved the companies and individuals listed below. Marketers are grouped based on the type of therapy, product, or service they pitched as preventing or treating COVID-19.
Exercise/Personal Training/Energy Treatments:
- TransformYou LLC (Tempe, AZ)
- Limitless Male Medical Clinic (Omaha, NE)
- Viking Alternative Medicine (Hudson, FL)
- 45 Urgent Care P.C. and Advanced Rehab and Medical, P.C. (Jackson, TN)
- Alpha Hormones Inc. (Beverly Hills CA)
- ReNew Integrated Medical Spa (Texarkana, TX)
IV Vitamin Therapy/Vitamin Injections:
- Illuminate Plastic Surgery (Palo Alto, CA)
- The Karlfeldt Center (Meridian, ID)
- Med-Thrive Dallas (Dallas, TX) and Med-Thrive Fort Worth (Fort Worth, TX)
- Ideal Body Center (Loomis, CA)
- Dr. Tyler Southwell/Southwellness COVID Solutions (Paradise Valley, AZ)
- ThrIVe Drip Spa (Houston, TX)
- Texas Center Wellness (Bee Cave, TX)
Infrared Sauna Therapy
Nasal and Oral Mists/Nasal Irrigation:
Ozone Therapy/Stem Cell Treatments:
- Rocky Mountain Regenerative Medicine (Boulder, CO)
- Howard Liebowitz, MD/Liebowitz Longevity Medicine (Santa Monica, CA)
- Butterfly Holistic Center, LLC (Phoenix, AZ)
Supplements, Colloidal Silver, Botanicals, and Prebiotics/Probiotics:
- Xceed Wellness and Xceed Acupuncture (River Forest, IL)
- Infinitum Health, LLC (Glendale, AZ)
- Palm Integrative Health, LLC (Ladue, MO)
- The Biamonte Center for Clinical Nutrition (Astoria, NY)
- JB7, LLC/Physician’s Choice (Wheat Ridge, CO)
- Noble Elements LLC (Cheyenne, WY)
- Sara Banta/Accelerated Health Products LLC (Costa Mesa, CA)
Other Recent COVID-related FTC Enforcement Actions
In August 2020, the FTC announced several federal court cases filed against marketers who allegedly made false promises about being able to quickly fulfill orders for facemasks and other personal protective equipment. One of those actions also included charges against the sellers of a product called “Basic Immune IGG” that claimed to treat or prevent COVID-19 and have FDA approval, according to the FTC’s complaint.
In November 2020, at the FTC’s request, a federal court in Ohio has issued a temporary restraining order against 25 counterfeit websites that allegedly have been playing on consumers’ COVID-19 pandemic fears to trick them into paying for Clorox and Lysol products that the defendants never deliver.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.