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Three months after coronavirus emerged as a global public health threat, “cures” being promoted to fearful US consumers include silver-based supplements that “attach” to the virus to render it ineffective and essential oils that “inhibit virus replication.”

Some dietary supplement and natural health product firms are promoting purported coronavirus treatments by referencing a previous outbreak that frightened consumers worldwide, severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003. They’re offering teas made with a combination of ingredients developed by an herbalist who claims to have developed an effective treatment for SARS.

Those and other obviously unsubstantiated claims – some described in technical detail – didn’t escape the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. The agencies sent joint warning letters to seven firms attempting to capitalize on consumer fears.

The agencies on 9 March announced the warning letters to supplement firms Colloidal Vitality LLC; Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.; Xephyr LLC dba N-Ergetics; GuruNanda LLC; and Herbal Amy LLC; Canadian osteopathic clinic Vivify Holistic Clinic; and to televangelist and convicted felon Jim Bakker’s TV show.

The agencies say the warnings submitted on 6 March are only the “first step” as FDA and FTC plan to take enforcement action against companies that continue to market the products with treatment claims.




“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 in a release.

The letters signed by Donald Ashley, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Compliance director, and Richard Quaresima, associate director of the FTC Division of Advertising Practices Acting, advised each firm to within 48 hours contact the FTC division describing the specific actions they will take to address concerns.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association encouraged the agencies to continue finding and warning firms making false Covid-19 claims.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition also suggested further enforcement while urging marketers and retailers “to be extra vigilant in preventing these products from ending up on shelves or e-commerce sites.”

'Home Remedy' With 'No Vaccines' Available?

The FDA and the FTC note no vaccines, drugs or investigational products are approved or available to treat or prevent Covid-19, first detected in the Wuhan region of China in December and since spread to 114,334 people worldwide, with 624 cases and 22 deaths reported in the US as of 9 March. (Also see "Coronavirus Drives TCM Sales In China, Clouds Global Consumer Health Outlook" - HBW Insight, 20 Feb, 2020.)

Yet, several companies marketing silver-containing supplements claimed their products are “home treatments” or can kill the virus and remove it from the body completely.

The FDA's warning about Bakker’s program that airs on the PTL Network for claims made for prevention and treatment immunity supplement Silver Solution wsas sent the same day the New York state attorney general announced a “cease and desist” order against him and his show. (Also see "Like Other Outbreaks, Coronavirus Symptoms Include False Health Claims, Price-Gouging" - HBW Insight, 6 Mar, 2020.)

The Center for Science in the Public Interest had asked federal and state authorities to investigate claims for Bakker's "silly Silver Solution.”

“Quacks who market dietary supplements love nothing more than a crisis. For someone like Jim Bakker, a crisis is just an opportunity to market worthless pills and potions as miraculous cures," said CSPI president Peter Lurie.

N-ergetics’ Colloidal Silver product, which the Atoka, OK, firm offers at $29.59 for 4 ounces, were posted on its website with advertising claims stating it has been used for over a century as a natural home remedy for coronaviruses and states it is the only known treatment.




“Even though there are no vaccines available to combat these coronaviruses, there is a home remedy of Colloidal Silver 100ppm that has worked effectively on coronaviruses successfully for the last 123 years,” the firm said.

It also highlighted the threat of coronavirus, noting that deaths from the regular flu and pneumonia “pale in comparison to the coronavirus flu. It is very contagious and quick to kill. Colloidal Silver kills all viruses.”

Colloidal Vitality promoted its Pure Vital Silver product with claims on its Facebook page that China is using ionic silver in its fight against the spread of the virus.

The Melbourne, FL, firm also described on the site how its Structured Silver Advanced Formula helps fight pathogens. “The structured silver circulating in your blood attaches to bacteria, yeast and viruses rendering them ineffective and boosting your immune system,” the site – now temporarily unavailable – noted. Also, the site claimed the product “allows a silver particle-cluster of silver to kill multiple bacteria, viruses and yeast//candida pathogens throughout the body until it is safety excreted.”

Collodial Vitality offers Structured Silver Advanced formula at $24.99 for 16 ounces.

Herbal Extract Brands Push Buhner’s ‘Protocol’

Both Vivify Holistic and Herbal Amy link their claims to plant researcher and natural healing herbalist Stephen Buhner, an “earth poet” who has published 15 books on nature, indigenous cultures and the environment.

Vivify even set up a website using “coronavirusdefense” in the address to promote Buhner’s four-part protocol linking it to the company’s own products, to treat Covid-19.

The Sarnia, ON, company’s site stated, “Regarding the Wuhan Coronavirus: Stephen Buhner… has done extensive research on coronaviruses … he has treated them very successfully using his protocols.” The site also stated “with active infection” of coronavirus, “consumers should take “very strong boneset tea, to 6x a day.”

Vivify’s four-part protocol comprises three 100-mL herbal extract bottles plus a loose leaf tea for $130.


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