When public health concerns hit the headlines, some companies and stores rush to market products promoted and advertised to prevent, treat or cure the problem.
We’re seeing this happen with the Coronavirus. There are important questions raised by these claims:
- Do these businesses have proof of their promotional or advertising claims, as the law requires
- If required, have their products been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA?
- Are there claims that the product prevents, treats, diagnoses, mitigates or cures COVID-19 or related conditions? If so, any such claims have to be supported by evidence as required by an emergency rule the Attorney General adopted April 17, 2020.
Recently, the Oregon Attorney General’s Office warned a “wellness” store in Portland that advertising that CBD products could boost immunity against the coronavirus was likely a violation of consumer protection laws.
Attorney General Rosenblum: “We were very pleased that the store immediately removed their ‘sandwich board’ sign when our investigator explained that it could be in violation of Oregon law-the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. On April 17, 2020, after speaking with the business community and seeing other claims of ‘cures’ for COVID-19, we adopted a temporary rule. The rule requires that a company have scientific evidence backing a claim that their product prevents, treats, diagnoses, mitigates or cures COVID-19 or related conditions.” Our message is simple: There are no known cures for COVID-19. Please don’t try to sell something that suggests there are!”
Suggestions that drugs like hydroxychloroquine (sometimes prescribed to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) can prevent, treat or cure COVID should also be met with skepticism. Although the President of the United States has repeatedly touted the use of these drugs as a treatment for the coronavirus, scientists have yet to determine whether they are effective and have real concerns about possible dangerous side effects.
Earlier this month, a doctor in California was charged with fraud for allegedly selling a “100%” cure for COVID-19 that included hydroxychloroquine.
And companies that make cleaning products are urging customers not to consume their cleaning products after the President suggested the possibility of injecting disinfectants to protect people from coronavirus.
AG Rosenblum added: “I actually cannot believe I need to tell consumers not to inject or ingest disinfectants (cleaning products) to cure COVID-19, but – just in case – please don’t!”
If you spot an ad making false claims about prevention, treatment or cure for coronavirus, please contact the Oregon Department of Justice by phone at 1-877-877-9392 or online at www.oregonconsumer.gov. We’re doing our best to stop these unfounded claims, and your report will help.
Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus-related scams at https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/sales-scams-fraud/price-gouging/