All kinds of alleged miracle cures and treatments for COVID-19 have hit the marketplace since the pandemic reached the U.S.
Federal authorities say such fraudulent claims involve homeopathic medicine and the use of unproven drugs. But one Dallas clinic has caught the feds’ attention with a surprising way to treat coronavirus: ozone therapy.
Purity Health and Wellness Centers is claiming that ozone can actually treat and prevent COVID-19, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the business. The lawsuit describes the treatment as a "predatory wire fraud scheme exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
The feds are asking a federal judge to stop the clinic and an owner, Jean Juanita Allen, from continuing to claim that “ozone eradicates lethal viruses and bacteria.” Wednesday’s court filing is the second coronavirus-related enforcement action in recent days by the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas.
Government lawyers last week sued a Richardson chiropractor, accusing him of falsely claiming to have a product for sale that can prevent COVID-19 infection. Dr. Ray Nannis of Optimum Wellness Solutions was charging people $95 per dose for a homeopathic preventive treatment, the lawsuit said. A federal judge on Friday afternoon granted the U.S. attorney’s request for a temporary restraining order.
The U.S. attorney’s office said its enforcement actions follow direction from Attorney General William Barr to U.S. attorneys nationwide to “prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of unlawful conduct related to the pandemic.”
Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys across the nation to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of unlawful conduct related to the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox has said the nation will not allow people to “peddle false hope during this pandemic in order to line their own pockets.”
There is currently no known medical cure for COVID-19, authorities say.
“Exposing humans to ozone, which is generally a toxic gas and respiratory irritant, is not known to prevent or treat COVID-19,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Coffin in the latest lawsuit.
Allen said Wednesday that she’s never claimed to have a cure for COVID-19.
“It seems like this is trying to scare people,” she said, before declining further comment.
The investigation began on April 15 when an FBI agent, Katherine Schwethelm, reviewed Purity Health’s Instagram account, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit cited several posts. One read: “The CORONA VIRUS is here in the USA. The only prevention is ozone.” Another said: “Concerns over CORONAVIRUS — you don’t have to worry if you do ozone!" And: “Corona Virus update: ozone eradicates lethal viruses and bacteria,” according to the lawsuit.
Allen also has told customers that Purity Health’s ozone treatments can cure or prevent COVID-19, the suit said. “The claims made by Purity Health and Allen are false and fraudulent,” the lawsuit says.
The website for the business, located in a shopping center off the Dallas North Tollway just south of Arapaho Road, says ozone therapy is “growing in popularity around the world, despite being one of the most misunderstood therapies available.”
Purity Health’s website also says ozone therapy can treat herniated disks, clean arteries and veins, purify the blood and lymph systems, prevent and reduce stroke damage, improve overall brain function, stimulate the immune system, and “inactivate bacteria, viruses and fungi.”