FTC tells sellers to stop making false claims about curing COVID

Those sellers have 48 hours to set things right or risk being sued, the agency said Wednesday.

Jessica Rendall
Jessica Rendall Wellness Writer
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health news. Before CNET, she worked in local journalism covering public health issues, business and music.
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The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on sellers falsely claiming their products can "prevent or cure" COVID-19. 

In a statement Wednesday, the FTC, which enforces consumer protection laws in order to prevent fraud or deception in advertising, said it sent cease and desist demands to 25 companies that claimed their products can prevent or cure COVID-19, despite lacking any proof required by law to make such claims.

Products from sellers listed in the FTC's press release include vitamin C infusions, peptide therapies, herbal remedies, teas, supplements and Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine for animals that has brought on its own set of lawsuits

The sellers have 48 hours to "notify the FTC of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency's concerns" or risk being sued under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act. Companies that make deceptive claims about treating or preventing COVID-19 are subject to a $43,792 penalty per violation. Most of the demands were sent to companies using social media to promote their products, and in those cases the social media company was also notified, the FTC said. 

The agency had previously sent similar letters to 405 companies and individuals, it said.

Products are authorized to treat or prevent COVID-19 by the US Food and Drug Administration, and they go through safety and effectiveness trials before they're marketed. COVID-19 vaccines, for example, are available and recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone age 5 and older. In November, unvaccinated adults were 13 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to vaccinated adults, according to the CDC. 

Some outpatient treatments for COVID-19 that have been authorized by the FDA and are thought to be effective against the omicron variant include Paxlovid, an antiviral pill for people at high risk of severe COVID-19, and the monoclonal antibody therapy sotroviamb, also for people at high risk. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.