Federal agencies crack down on fake coronavirus cures

The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission have sent warning letters to seven companies accused of selling unapproved products that claim to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

The companies advertise products such as teas, essential oils and colloidal silver, claiming they can treat or prevent the coronavirus. The FDA said there are currently no approved vaccines or drugs able to treat or prevent the virus. 

"There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus. What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.

The agencies said the warning letters are just the first step and that they are prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market false products, which they called a threat to public health. 

The letters tell the companies to immediately stop making claims their products can cure or treat the coronavirus and that if they do not, the FTC may seek go to federal court to stop the marketing and get money refunded to consumers. 

The recipients have to respond within 48 hours, detailing specific actions they have taken to address the agencies' concerns. 

The FTC also set up a blog to help people identify and avoid coronavirus scams, and the agencies said they will continue to monitor online marketplaces and social media for false advertising related to the coronavirus. 

Read the full news release here

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