Amid the coronavirus pandemic, people are desperate for anything that might protect them from the disease or cure them if they have it. While plenty of companies are now hard at work on legitimate means of addressing the crisis, there have also been many people looking to cash in on people’s desperation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun seriously cracking down on these fraudulent actors, sending out letters to dozens of companies making false or unsubstantiated claims about their products and their ability to fight the virus.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a highly infectious disease currently gripping the planet. With more than a million people confirmed infected and more than 50,000 dead in the United States alone, almost everyone is concerned about how they can protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus. However, effective treatments for the coronavirus are currently still being tested, and a vaccine is not expected to be in production for at least another six to twelve months.
However, this means a void has been left by legitimate efforts to address the disease, and opportunists have taken advantage to promote their own dubious treatments and preventatives. In the most recent batch alone, issued on April 24, the FTC issued 40 letters to companies for allegedly making false or misleading claims about their products and their ability to prevent or cure the coronavirus. The letters state that none of the products have reliable evidence demonstrating their claims, and thus must cease making those claims immediately.
The FTC has warned in its letters that any claims about any medical product must be based on “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” This is intended to protect the public from products that, at best, provide false hope about preventing or curing diseases like the coronavirus, and at worst can cause significant harm with toxic side effects. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of efforts by the FTC to curtail fraudulent activity surrounding the coronavirus, and businesses should be wary not to earn their ire, or the legal trouble that might follow.
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