FTC issues warnings to San Diego businesses over COVID-19 treatment claims

Posted at 2:51 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 20:06:09-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday that it has sent letters to nearly four dozen marketers nationwide, including four based in San Diego, warning them to stop making unsubstantiated claims that their products and therapies can treat or prevent COVID-19.

The FTC identified those sent letters locally as:

  • ActiveHerb Technology, Inc.;
  • Aspire Regenerative Health;
  • EcoShield, LLC; and
  • Forever Ozone.

The letters are among 45 sent nationwide by the Federal Trade Commission in conjunction with its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from COVID-19-related scams, according to the FTC.

Several of the most recent batch of letters target "treatments," including Chinese herbal medications, music therapy, homeopathic treatments and shields claimed to boost the immune system by protecting the wearer from electromagnetic fields, according to the FTC.

In a statement the head of ActiveHerb wrote, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This warning is about a blog we wrote back in March about what China has done with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in its efforts in battling the pandemic. It was for informational purposes only. After the FTC letter, we explained it to the FTC and immediately took it down.”

The Medical Director at Aspire Regenerative told 10News, “We had a very cordial exchange with the FTC and on May 5th we received correspondence saying they consider the matter resolved. Our medical center remains open to continue to offer vital services to our community.”

10News spoke to the head of EcoShield, LLC. He told reporter Adam Racusin, they got the letter and removed anything the FTC took issue with. They company said they never made any claims their product could treat or prevent COVID-19.

The head of also says he never made claims the product could treat or cure the coronavirus. In a phone interview he said, “that was a blog post., I blogged linking to an article said they killed the virus with ozone.” He went on to say he removed the post when the government asked because, “when they tell you to jump you ask how high. They will shut you down in a heartbeat if you resist.”

A previous round of letters were sent to sellers of vitamins, herbs, colloidal silver, teas, essential oils and other products pitched as scientifically proven coronavirus treatments or preventatives, according to the FTC.

In all, letters have been sent to nearly 100 companies and individuals, according to the commission.

In the letters, the FTC states that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated because they are not supported by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act. The letters advise the recipients to immediately stop making all claims that their products can treat or cure COVID-19, and to notify the commission within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency's concerns.

The letters also note that if the false claims do not cease, the commission may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers.