FTC Warns on Claims About Unproven Covid-19 Treatments

Al Root

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Photograph by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

With U.S. Covid-19 cases approaching 1 million, the Federal Trade Commission warned about marketing firms’ health claims about unproven treatments.

Multi-level marketing firms “and other companies that distribute their products through networks of distributors are responsible for the product and earnings claims those distributors are making,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a Friday news release. “During this health and economic crisis, we are on the lookout for false income claims for work-at-home opportunities, in addition to spurious health claims that products can treat or prevent Covid-19.”

Ten warning letters have been sent. One of the dubious claims the FTC cites:

“Is copper effective against coronaviruses? ….In a recent study by U.S. health organizations, copper was shown to be more effective than any other surface tested at deactivating (killing) the HCoV-19 coronavirus.”

The product in question is a piece of copper, shaped like soap, that consumers are supposed to rub on their hands without water.

Another claim the FTC objects to says, “miracle mineral solution” is “intended to cure, mitigate, treat, prevent, or diagnose Coronavirus and/or Covid-19 in people.”

There is a marijuana angle to recent snake-oil sales too. Another claim says CBD products will help reduce inflammation associated with Covid-19. There is no controlled medical study to back those claims. The FTC calls the product “unapproved” and “misbranded.”

Of course, there is a lot of consumer anxiety about Covid-19. Global cases are approaching 3 million. U.S. confirmed cases should top 1 million this week. Growth in the number of new cases diagnosed daily in America has slowed to about 30,000 a day.

Global deaths recently topped 200,000. U.S. deaths linked to Covid-19 now top 53,900, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Covid-19 continues to cause stock market volatility. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
dropped almost 2% last week after rising about 2% the week before. The Dow is off almost 17% year to date. The
S&P 500
has fallen about 12%.

Oil prices have plummeted amid weak demand for gasoline and jet fuel because of coronavirus. Prices actually went negative this past week. Commodity speculators actually had to pay to off load oil futures contracts for May 1 delivery.

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