The Federal Trade Commission charged a California-based company called Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc. with deceptively advertising a $23,000 treatment plan as a scientifically proven way to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Billboard for COVID-19 TreatmentAccording to the FTC’s complaint, Golden Sunrise began marketing its Emergency D-Virus plan as a treatment for COVID-19 in March 2020. Advertising on billboards, their websites, and social media, Golden Sunrise falsely claims that the company’s supplements—ImunStem, Aktiffvate, and AnterFeerons—are “uniquely qualified to treat and modify the course of the Coronavirus epidemic in CHINA and other countries,” and that users can expect the “disappearance of viral symptoms within two to four days,” the FTC alleged.

The FTC sent Golden Sunrise a letter in April 2020, warning that it should immediately remove all advertising claims that the products could prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. Yet Golden Sunrise continues to market the plan as a COVID-19 treatment, the FTC alleged.

“We warned the defendants not to falsely market their product as an effective treatment for COVID-19, but they didn’t stop,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “As this case makes clear, the FTC is prepared to sue companies that continue to make deceptive health claims about COVID-19 or other serious diseases.”

The defendants also have promoted and sold a range of dietary supplements as treatments for cancer and Parkinson’s disease, as well as many other different serious health conditions and diseases. Some of the defendants’ treatments cost as much as $170,000 to $200,000. In reality, they are comprised mainly of various herbs and spices and the health claims are unsubstantiated, according to the FTC.

The FTC also alleges that the defendants falsely claim their products and treatment plans have been reviewed and accepted by the FDA, and designated safe and effective.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. In addition to Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc., the FTC complaint names as defendants Golden Sunrise Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and the companies’ principals, Huu Tieu and Dr. Stephen Meis.

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