The warning letters were announced this morning and resulted from FDA reviews of the claims being made on the companies’ websites.
Among the recipients was Jim Bakker. Bakker and his then-wife Tammy Faye become media personalities for their brand of showy televangelism with a long running TV show called The PTL Club. Bakker resigned after a scandal involved hush money paid to former assistant Jessica Hahn to cover up an alleged rape. The Bakkers had also developed a Christian theme park called Heritage USA in South Carolina. Both the TV ministry and the park went bankrupt in the wake of the affair and Bakker ended up serving five years in prison on a number of fraud and conspiracy counts.
Bakker now runs a new enterprise called The Jim Bakker Show. According to the FDA warning letter, Bakker has been hawking a colloidal silver dietary supplement as a cure all for COVID-19 on the show.
Colloidal silver cure all
According to the warning letter sent to Bakker, on the air he asked a guest about the Silver Solution sold on the TV show’s website: “But this influenza [sic] that is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective?” To which she replied: “Well let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours, totally eliminate it, kills it, deactivates it.”
In addition to the warning letter, Bakker had also received a cease and desist order from New York Attorney General Letitia James. James noted in her order that the World Health Organization has stressed that there is at the moment no specific medicine to prevent or treat this disease.
"The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD. "We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable.”
Among the warning letters recipients were other companies selling colloidal silver as well as marketers of essential oils and herbal dietary supplements.
“CRN is pleased to see FDA and FTC taking enforcement action against companies preying on consumers during this vulnerable time. We recommend consumers avoid any product that claims to treat, cure or prevent coronavirus, and we urge both marketers and retailers to be extra vigilant in preventing these products from ending up on shelves or e-commerce sites," said Jim Griffiths, PhD, senior vice president of international and scientific affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition.