The law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck on Monday issued guidance to companies looking to sell coronavirus-related products during the pandemic: do not prey on people’s fears.
“Regardless of the possible, or even proven, health benefits of your products, if you are considering offering your product as a preventative, treatment or cure for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, think twice and tread carefully,” the company wrote on its website.
Attorney General Phil Weiser announced earlier this month that his office is on the lookout for scams related to COVID-19. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have already sent letters to several organizations purporting to sell treatments or cures for the virus. The FTC additionally advised that Americans be cautious of fake charities, potentially harmful email links and robocalls that capitalize off of coronavirus fears.
The firm explained that the FDA considers products that make implied claims about treatment or cures as “unapproved new drugs” or “misbranded” drugs that violate federal law. A plaintiff who is “almost always a competitor of the defendant” may sue the product maker if they can prove that the deceptive advertising likely contributed to the product’s purchase and harmed the plaintiff’s business.
The National Institutes of Health reports that while some supplements manage people's health conditions and improve their health overall, "they are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases."