Court Orders Texas Physician To Stop Marketing Fake Cure
Marketing and sale of a “wonder cure” for common health problems has been around forever, and as Gary Coody, R.Ph. and national health fraud coordinator for the FDA says, “the Internet has opened up the world market to people from their personal computers.” “The snake oil salesman is still alive,” says Coody.
It’s no surprise that “snake oil” salesmen are popping up with purported “wonder cures” for the coronavirus outbreak. The FDA and Department of Justice are cracking down to put a stop to any purported miracle cures, not just snake oil salesmen, including a religious group in Angleton, Texas.
More recently, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas announced that the United States Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas obtained a temporary restraining order against a chiropractor in the Dallas-Forth-Worth area that will prohibit the chiropractor from further marketing false treatments for the coronavirus.
As alleged in the civil complaint, the Richardson-based chiropractor advertised homeopathic treatments as a “C-19 vaccine” and a “treatment, reducing severity and duration of symptoms, should you test positive.”
U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle granted the government’s request for the restraining order, requiring the chiropractor to remove and delete all misleading and false internet content immediately and preventing him from any further promoting or marketing “worthless and potentially dangerous treatments.”
On the Facebook account of his wellness center, Optimum Wellness Solutions, the chiropractor posted several marketing contents promoting his fake cures as providing “up to 90 percent protection” from the coronavirus, as stated in court documents. “It will help us avoid being sick or if you do get sick, it’s going to make it very, very, very minimal,” the chiropractor purported during a video posted on Optimum’s Facebook account on April 1.
During a phone call with an agent from the government, the chiropractor maintained that his treatment would provide protection from the coronavirus, “more so than any other vaccine out there right now,” and further stated his alleged treatments could minimize the symptoms related to COVID-19. Although he admitted he could not “technically” say his treatment was COVID-19 “cure” due to restrictions by the FDA, he nevertheless asserted his treatment “basically” was “for all intents and purposes.”
The government sought the injunctive relief under the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statue, alleging in their complaint that the chiropractor and Optimum Wellness Solutions were engaging in an ongoing “predatory” wire fraud scheme exploiting the global pandemic.
“As a community, we cannot and will not allow individuals to peddle false hope during this pandemic in order to line their own pockets,” further announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “By promoting these unsubstantiated ‘treatments’ for COVID-19, this defendant substituted profits for the safety of the public. We are gratified the Court acted quickly to put a stop to this egregious conduct.”
“The subject in this case abused his position of trust for his own personal benefit by preying on customers’ basic human condition, fear, by selling a fictitious COVID-19 remedy. This case should serve as a strong deterrent for those considering taking part in similar fraud schemes,” stated William Smarr, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service’s Dallas Field Office. “The Secret Service, along with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and in partnership with our federal, state and local counterparts will continue to combat COVID-19 related fraud. As this pandemic evolves and federal funds are distributed to those suffering from economic losses, the Secret Service will continue to detect, investigate and arrest criminals who attempt to prey on vulnerable citizens and businesses.”
To be clear, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not identified any treatments, cures, or immunizations for the novel COVID-19 virus as of April 21, 2019.
If you, friends, coworkers, or a family member see any products or services related to the COVID-19 that include claims that the product or service is:
- “A Miracle Cure,”
- “A Wonder Drug,”
- “Magic Bullet,” or
- Otherwise conveys it will cure or prevent COVID-19 with a significantly high efficacy, such as “90%-100% of the time.”
Please visit the website of the Department of Justice, FBI, or FDA to report the activity and obtain more information.