Science must be specific to products, FTC reiterates In new raft of COVID-19 warning letters

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Serggn
©Getty Images - Serggn

Related tags COVID-19 Antivirals Dietary supplement companies Regulation

The US Federal Trade Commission has cited another 30 companies or individuals for making what it characterizes as unsubstantiated COVID-19 treatment claims.

The new warnings are among more than 400 FTC has issued​ since the start of the global pandemic in early 2020.  Among those receiving the latest warnings are marketers of peptide therapies, intravenous vitamin injections, ozone and stem cell therapies, and eight marketers of dietary supplements.

In one of the supplement warning letters, FTC cited Wheat Ridge, CO-based company JB7 LLC, which markets supplements under the brand Physician’s Choice supplements, for claims made on its probiotic products.  JB7, which sells its products online, sells several probiotic products based on multi species formulations.

Blog posts summarize science results

The FTC warning letter featured lengthy quotations from several blog posts on the marketer’s website about the immune health benefits of probiotic supplementation that dated from February through July of 2020.  One of blog posts was a recap of much of the science in the field, all grouped under the heading “What we know about Covid-19 and gut health.” ​ The blog post asserted that probiotic supplementation may regulate levels of cytokines in the system as a result of a viral infection and my help lessen the severity of a bout of COVID-19.

Another blog post allegedly included this quote: “China’s National Health Commission and National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine both recommended that probiotics be used to support and maintain the balance of intestinal bacteria in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 infection.”

FTC: Studies not specific to products being marketed

FTC responded to these claims and others contained within the blog posts with this statement: “It is unlawful under the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID-19, no such study is currently known to exist for the products identified above.”

Other cited companies were allegedly making COVID-19 treatment claims in connection with a ‘COVID-19 Treatment Pack’ suite of supplements including vitamins C and D, NAC and turmeric  products and another marketer of cordyceps mushroom products as well as a company marketing products that contain iodine and colloidal silver.

In addition, two companies were cited for unsubstantiated claims connected to products they were selling that  reportedly were manufactured by Wei Laboratories based in Cupertino, CA. Wei Labs, founded by two health care professionals associated with Harvard Medical School among other institutions, manufactures a wide array of products broadly based on TCM concepts. The two formulas involved in the FTC warning letters are marketed under the brand names Silver Flower and Golden Flower.

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