September 27, 2020

FTC (Federal Trade Commission) makes laudable changes against false advertising during COVID19

Scammers will use photoshop and snake oil marketing lingo to sell dust as Gold and degrade Gold to dust. Such is the power of the the Advertising gurus of the West, and well everywhere.Right on as the COVID19 struck, Vitamin C, Nutritional cocktails, colloidal silver and God knows what else, started being promoted by ambitious marketers as a cure, targeting the already anxious populations in the USA and around the world.

 

Will the warning letters help? Since March 2020, the FTC has issued more than 200 warning letters to various businesses that advertise wellness products and other PPE products that allegedly address COVID-19.

 

As world leaders are biting their nails waiting for nature to take mercy on humanity, doctors and medical companies alike have been trying to avert 2020’s COVID19 medical emergency. Then again, we had some classic cases of charlatans claiming to cure COVID19, who were duly told off by letters from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misbranding and promoting products with supposed COVID-19 cures, treatment or prevention for making illegal, unsubstantiated claims.

We can see that the FTC has been hard at work eliminating false and misleading information from the marketplace. The Federal Trade Commission Act of USA defines false advertising making claims which are false in a “material respect,” including both affirmative statements and failure to “reveal facts material in the light of [the product’s] representations[.]” See 15 USC 55(a)(1).

Such claims could also be a gross exaggeration of the product’s effectiveness to be interpreted as  misbranding. But even when promotional statements do not include an explicit falsehood, overpromotion still can cross into misbranding. For example, businesses that claim, “[this product] will target and increase your immunity to help ward off the COVID-19 virus” or that recommended their products as “scientifically proven to support healthy immune function” , will also be found in breach.

The FTC has warned that  “under the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq.,” they are prohibited from advertising “that a product or service can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made.” In addition, products that claim or imply the ability to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19 must be approved drugs under section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In each case, the FTC required a response from the business within 48 hours, detailing the actions taken to address the FTC’s concerns.

I am pasting below the latest FTC and FDA guidance for companies marketing goods to the public for COVID and False Advertising, and this is an extract from the FTC website: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2020/03/ftc-fda-warn-companies-making-coronavirus-claims

“Coronavirus-related advertising claims will be subject to exacting scrutiny. The FTC has a magnifying glass on the marketplace to monitor Coronavirus claims. We’ll be taking a close look at what companies are saying. That also includes an examination of product names; URLs, metatags, and other ways companies can suggest or imply claims to consumers.

Don’t even think about marketing a product unless you can support your claims with sound science. Under the FTC Act, claims that a product can prevent or treat a serious disease require the support of well-controlled human clinical studies.

Exercise caution in social media. Promoting your Coronavirus-related product on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., is advertising subject to the FTC Act. If you don’t have solid scientific support, don’t say it in social media.

Both agencies also have guidance for consumers. The FDA is advising them “not to purchase or use COVID-19 related products offered for sale that have not been approved, cleared, or authorized by FDA.”

During this unprecedented health crisis, companies that sell consumer products should remember their duty not to misrepresent information to people.This applies equally to Mask and PPE companies

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