A San Antonio clinic recently received a warning letter from federal regulators directing it to cease pitching products and services claiming to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.
The Doll House MedSpa & Anti-Aging Clinic’s website and Facebook page advertised the benefits “ozone therapy” can have in battling COVID-19, the Federal Trade Commission said in a May 26 letter.
The FTC gave the Doll House 48 hours to address the agency’s concerns.
A call to Doll House founder and “Master Injector” Cynthia Ramos was not immediately returned Thursday, so it couldn’t be determined if the clinic responded to the FTC. An FTC spokesman would not confirm whether the agency received a response from the Doll House.
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As of early Thursday afternoon, however, the Doll House’s website still was promoting the benefits of ozone therapy in fighting the symptoms or controlling the spread of the virus.
“Ozone Therapy has proven to be effective in cases that involve covid-10,” the website states. The URL even mentions the novel coronavirus: dollhouseantiaging.com/ozone-therapy-for-covid-19.
No study is known to exist to substantiate the claims that appeared on the Doll House’s website and Facebook page, the FTC said in its letter.
“Thus, any coronarvirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding such services and products are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” wrote Richard A. Quaresima, acting associate director in the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. “You must immediately cease making all such claims.”
The missive to the Doll House was among more than 160 letters the FTC has sent to companies and individuals ordering them to stop making unsubstantiated claims relating to the coronavirus.
The latest batch of letters, sent to 35 marketers nationwide — including the Doll House — primarily targeted alleged treatments offered in clinics and medical offices.
The treatments included intravenous vitamin C and D, “supposed stem cell therapy, and vitamin injections that may at first glance appear to be based in medicine or proven effective,” the FTC said in a news release.
A YouTube video on the Doll House’s website extols the virtues of ozone therapy. Ozone gas is a form of oxygen.
“It is used as an alternative therapy for increasing the body’s absorption and use of oxygen and stimulating the immune system,” the video states. The therapy cures and treats illnesses by reducing the symptoms of viruses and bacteria, it adds.
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The Federal Drug Administration, however, has warned against using ozone therapy for preventive purposes.
In April, the Justice Department obtained a permanent injunction against a Dallas wellness center that allegedly told customers that its ozone therapy could cure or prevent COVID-19.
Those claims were false or fraudulent, the government alleged in a civil complaint, “as the participants in the scheme either know or consciously avoid knowing the fact that currently there is no known effective medical cure for COVID-19.”
San Antonio U.S. Attorney John F. Bash in March urged the public to report businesses and individuals selling “fake cures” for COVID-19. No cases have been brought in the San Antonio area, thus far, however.
The Doll House said ozone therapy is “potentially effective for treating COVID-10, based on its proven effectiveness against other viral infections,” according to the FTC’s letter. The clinic also allegedly stated multiple countries have reported success with the therapy in dealing with COVID-19.
The Doll House’s claims violate federal law, which prohibits advertising a service or product to prevent or treat human disease without scientific evidence to substantiate that the claims are true, the FTC says in its letter.
If a company persists in making false claims, the FTC may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers.
Patrick Danner is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering banking and civil courts. To read more from Patrick, become a subscriber. email@example.com | Twitter: @AlamoPD