Oregon Attorney Ellen Rosenblum announced agreements with six companies and medical practitioners who have been selling products and services advertising a so-called Covid-19 “cure”, or advertising an ability to boost immunity and keep people healthy from the disease. Many of the treatments the companies and medical practitioners were selling are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). The companies were all sent Investigative Demands from the Oregon Department of Justice, or a Warning Letter from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before agreeing to an assurance of voluntary compliance (AVC) with the state of Oregon and promising to no longer market their products or services.
“Understandably, people are scared about contracting Covid-19 and these companies and clinics preyed on that fear. We would all love an easy ‘fix’ or a ‘cure’ to Covid-19, but companies cannot sell something that has not been approved by the CDC or the FDA,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Selling false promises could have dangerous consequences to somebody’s health and give people a false sense of security.”
Under each Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), each company or medical practitioner can no longer use promotional or marketing claims regarding any product that relates to COVID-19 unless the claim has been approved by the FDA and is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The six AVCs include:
Ashland Natural Medicine (Ashland, Oregon): In marketing materials, the clinic said they were “confident that we have useful tools for this infection…Chinese medicine, homeopathy and western herbs appear to be helping many people with this infection so our intention is to use them to treat ill people.”
Holistic Health Acupuncture (Ashland, Oregon): The clinic used social media to have consumers contact them for herbal treatments or products related to Covid-19. The website encouraged consumers to call the clinic “at the first sign of symptoms for optimal results…..” The website also said, “our herbal training allows for differential diagnosis of the illness depending upon how it presents. We have protocols for fever, wheezing, body aches, respiratory concerns.”
Inner Works Acupuncture (Portland, Oregon): In marketing materials, the clinic claimed that, “if you are concerned about contracting coronavirus, Chinese herbal medicine for Covid-19 is a great option for prevention, suspected exposure, early-stage and mild symptoms that can be treated at home.” Marketing materials also claimed that “starting an herbal formula early in treatment may help keep your respiratory illness from progressing to a more severe state. Herbal treatment could keep you from needed a hospital bed.”
Love Acupuncture & Wellness Group (Clackamas, Oregon): The clinic used marketing materials on their website to claim that, “the Chinese government distributed Chinese herbal medicine to everyone with covid-19 in the hospital and it yielded a 94% improvement rate.” The clinic also offered live video-conference appointments to provide consumers with a customized herbal prescription that may reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of infection. The clinic also promoted a “Clear Lung Toxins Formula” that they said was created by a panel of four traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and that the formula was tested on 214 patients and 90% improved.
Heirloom Organics (Grants Pass, Oregon): Under the AVC, the company is no longer able to sell “Pandemic Protection Kits”, which ranged in price from $169 for the “Family Maximum Protection” kit to $449 for the “Extreme Response” kit. Products in the kits included things like face masks, biohazard stickers, biohazard waste bags, thermal emergency blankets, biohazard barricade tape, and light sticks, and the company’s marketing materials stated or implied, inaccurately, that all products in the kits were tested and approved by the CDC, OHSA, or the WHO to provide protection specifically against coronavirus.
Holistic Health, P.C. (Portland, Oregon): According to the FTC, Holistic Health used marketing materials suggesting that a Chinese herbal medicine for COVID-19 is “a great option for prevention, suspected exposure, early-stage and mild system that can be treated at home.” The clinic also suggested that starting an herbal formula early may keep the disease from progressing into something more severe. The clinic also recommended enhanced version of “Evergreen Herbs Immune Plus” which included two immune-modulating mushroom herbs.
Since the pandemic began in March, the Oregon Attorney General’s consumer hotline and price gouging hotline has received more than 900 phone calls and written complaints about price gouging, and other consumer issues related to COVID-19. To report Covid-19 related fraud, call 877-877-9392 or file a complaint online at www.OregonConsumer.gov. Consumers who have concerns about price gouging are encouraged to call the DOJ’s price gouging hotline at 503-378-8442.
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.