FTC Files Suit Against California Marketer of $23,000 COVID-19 “Treatment” Plan

On July 31, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it has charged a California-based company with deceptively advertising a $23,000 treatment plan as a scientifically proven way to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Golden Sunrise began marketing its Emergency D-Virus plan as a treatment for COVID-19 in March 2020. Advertising on billboards, their websites and social media, the FTC alleges that Golden Sunrise falsely claims that the company’s supplements—ImunStem, Aktiffvate, and AnterFeerons—are “uniquely qualified to treat and modify the course of the Coronavirus epidemic in CHINA and other countries,” and that users can expect the “disappearance of viral symptoms within two to four days.”

The FTC sent Golden Sunrise a warning letter in April 2020, demanding that it immediately remove all advertising claims that the products could prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. Yet, according to the FTC, Golden Sunrise continues to market the plan as a COVID-19 treatment

“We warned the defendants not to falsely market their product as an effective treatment for COVID-19, but they didn’t stop,” said FTC attorney and Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “As this case makes clear, the FTC is prepared to sue companies that continue to make deceptive health claims about COVID-19 or other serious diseases.”

The FTC alleges that the defendants also have promoted and sold a range of dietary supplements as treatments for cancer and Parkinson’s disease, as well as many other different serious health conditions and diseases. Some of the defendants’ treatments cost as much as $170,000 to $200,000, according to the agency. The FTC alleges that, in reality, they are comprised mainly of various herbs and spices and the health claims are unsubstantiated.

The FTC also alleges that the defendants falsely claim their products and treatment plans have been reviewed and accepted by the FDA, and designated safe and effective.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

This matter should be of interest to those that market dietary supplements and nutraceuticals online, as well as those that have received a CID or have been named as a defendant in an enforcement action.

Richard B. Newman is a FTC attorney at Hinch Newman LLP. Follow him on National Law Review @ FTC Defense Lawyer and on Twitter @ FTC Defense Lawyer.

Informational purposes only. Not legal advice. May be considered attorney advertising.