US Government regulators have sued a marketer of herbal extracts for allegedly claiming one of his products is effective at treating, preventing or reducing the risk of COVID-19.
In a statement this week, the Federal Trade Commission said that, following the development, the owner of Whole Leaf Organics (Marc Ching) had agreed to a preliminary order barring him from making similar claims in future.
The proposed preliminary order also bars Ching, doing business as Whole Leaf Organics, from claiming that three CBD-based products he sells are effective cancer treatments.
“There’s no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “Let’s be clear: companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one.”
“Let’s be clear: companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one”
According to the FTC’s federal district court complaint, since at least December 2018, through Whole Leaf Organics, Ching has advertised and sold Thrive online, with a 50-capsule bottle selling for $36.99.
The federal court complaint states that beginning in or around March 2020 Ching started to market Thrive as an “anti viral wellness booster” that treats, prevents, or reduces the risk of COVID-19. In addition, the FTC alleges that Ching falsely represents that these benefits of Thrive are clinically proven, pointing out that there is no scientific evidence that Thrive or any of its ingredients can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19.
The complaint also alleges that, since at least December 2018, Ching has used his Whole Leaf Organics website to advertise and sell three CBD-containing products, CBD-EX, CBD-RX, and CBD-Max ranging in price from $75 and $125 per bottle.
“Ching advertises all three CBD products as effective cancer treatments”, says the FTC’s statement. According to the FTC’s complaint, however, Ching does not have the scientific evidence to back up the cancer-treatment claims, and therefore the advertisements are false or deceptive.
In the United States stipulated preliminary orders have the force of law when approved and signed by a judge.
Main image: The Whole Leaf Organics website, with illegal product claims flagged by the FTC