NORFOLK, Va. - The Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration issued warnings on Monday to the public over companies, exploiting the fears over the coronavirus, that claimed to sell products that cure or treat the virus.
The agencies said these claims are false. So far, consumers are on alert.
“Normally I don’t believe it for sure," Laura Rose, a concerned consumer, told News 3. "If you’re claiming to cure something, hands down, I’m not going to believe it.”
James Rose, another concerned consumer, said he typically researches any product that makes any claim before buying it. He too shared the similar thoughts.
“It is concerning to me because everything is a scam," Rose said. "Just about anything in this world today especially when it’s something new.”
The agencies sent out letters to seven companies, demanding they stop advertising products claiming to treat and prevent the coronavirus. Some of those products include teas, essential oils, and products with chemical sound products.
The companies the FDA and FTC are warning about are: Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., N-ergetics, GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show. (click on the links to read each individual letter)
The agencies told the companies they have 48 hours to instruct them of what actions they will take to address their concerns. If they do not cease advertising, the agencies said they would take these companies to federal court.
“So when a consumer sees a product out there making a claim," Brian Martin, the Director for Master of Public Health Program, and a Professor of Public Health, at Eastern Virginia Medical School, explained, "they should ask themselves, 'is that truly a claim that can be backed up by the FDA?'”
Martin said the FDA will be the leading agency in charge of determining which product can actually treat and mitigate an illness. He added someone is always looking to capitalize off of the latest illness.
“Clearly they should stop doing that," Brian said. "It is in violation of what our federal protections provide for us and really just stop taking advantage of people. There’s enough concern without us hyper-inflating it.”
He explained that any potential treatment or cure needs to be tested by the FDA and undergo trials, which can take roughly two years before it’s made public. Even if research for a cure gets expedited, consumers should not expect it to hit shelves the next day.
"People are desperate to protect themselves and when they hear the message that this is a new virus and we’re not 100 percent sure how it functions relative to other coronavirus or the flu," Martin Said, "they want to make sure they’re protected as possible.”
The FDA and FTC said that if a consumer would like to file a complaint of a similar matter to call 1-877-FTC-HELP. Consumers can also file a complaint online.