As concerns about contracting the coronavirus heighten, some companies are selling fake products aimed at fearful consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued warning letters to seven companies that are selling fraudulent COVID-19 products that have not been proven to prevent the virus.

The products range from teas and essential oils to tinctures and colloidal silver and could pose a risk to Americans during the coronavirus outbreak because they have not been approved to prevent or treat the virus.

“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health,” Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., FDA commissioner, said in a statement. “We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one.

“We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable,” he added.

According to the FDA, these fraudulent products claim to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19, which could cause a consumer to delay or stop medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm.

“There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” Joe Simons, FTC chairmen said in a statement. “What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims. These warning letters are just the first step. We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”

The warning letters were sent to Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., Xephyr, LLC (dba N-Ergetics), GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show. The companies have 48 hours to take corrective action against the violations and may be subject to legal action, including seizure or injunction.

According to the agencies, there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent the coronavirus. They are investigating possible COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, which are in the early stages of development and have not been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Consumers are urged to be cautious of companies selling products that claim to prevent, mitigate, treat, diagnose, or cure the coronavirus, including dietary supplements and other foods, drugs, medical devices, or vaccines. Using these products could potentially lead to serious diseases and conditions, the agencies said.

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Representational image of a woman wearing a mask to safeguard herself from the coronavirus. Tumisu - Pixabay