Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cracked down on companies purporting to sell products that can alleviate or prevent symptoms of COVID-19. Recently, the FTC announced its approval of a final administrative consent order that settled charges against a marketer of a supplement called “Thrive,” which was advertised as being able to treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19.
As discussed in the FTC’s post, Thrive, which consists mainly of Vitamin C and herbal extracts, was advertised and sold online by California-based marketer, Marc Ching doing business as Whole Leaf Organics. The FTC’s April 2020 administrative complaint states that Ching was advertising and selling Thrive since at least December 2018 but, around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, began marketing Thrive as an “anti viral wellness booster” that can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19. He also deceptively advertised and sold three CBD-containing products.
The FTC’s order bars Ching for making these claims and requires him to send written notices to those who purchased Thrive explaining that it does not have the COVID-19 benefits that he previously advertised and notifying them of his settlement with the FTC. Additionally, he must inform purchasers of the three CBD-containing products that they do not treat cancer.
If a consumer would like to file a report regarding a COVID-19 related scam, they can do so here.
As a reminder, under the FTC Act, the Lanham Act, and state advertising laws, companies should be sure to only advertise information that they have confirmed to be true, accurate, and substantiated – whether related to COVID-19 or any other health benefit.