March 17, 2020
“The FDA, in conjunction with our federal and international partners, will continue to help advance response efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, and that includes warning consumers against becoming victims of health fraud and taking action to stop health scams.”
Be wary of anyone claiming they can cure COVID-19. Talk to your doctor.
By Dr. Stephen Hahn
Part of the FDA’s mission is to protect Americans from health fraud. This includes warning about the dangers of purchasing and using medical products or devices that have not been proven safe and/or effective for the uses they claim. Health fraud scams can cause delays in proper diagnoses and treatment and may even lead to more serious injuries or death, all the while wasting American consumers’ hard-earned dollars.
The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission have already issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products. The products cited — teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver — are unapproved drugs that pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.
The FDA has dedicated staff closely monitoring for the sale of products making false claims related to COVID-19. The products we are seeing range from herbal products and ayurvedic medicines to protective masks and hand sanitizers. Some are offered for sale in the United States, while others are marketed outside the country to U.S. consumers.
As part of our effort to combat deceptive activity, we are working closely with major retailers who are monitoring their online marketplaces for fraudulent products with novel coronavirus and other pathogen claims. To date, the FDA has received reports of more than 90 products marketed with unapproved claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. The agency has found 50 products marketed on popular online marketplaces with similar, unproven claims. All of these listings have been removed by their respective marketplaces.
We are also monitoring retail stores, websites that appear to be legitimate pharmacies and social media platforms. The FDA will take action against unscrupulous actors who are marketing unlawful products related to this outbreak. Companies that fail to take corrective action immediately may be subject to federal enforcement action, such as seizure or injunction.