Coronavirus: FDA combating fraudulent medical products

May 7, 2020

The agency seeks to tamp down on unscrupulous companies exploiting the pandemic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking a stand against companies attempting to profit off of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic through fraudulent medical products.

According to a news release, the FDA is taking a number of steps to find and stop scam artists on the internet selling unproven medical products that fraudulently claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cured COVID-19.

“While we seek to ensure access to critical medical products, it is imperative that we continue our efforts to find and prevent the sale and distribution of products that may be harmful to the public health,” FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Judy McMeekin, PharmD, says in the release. “Americans can rest assured that we’re leveraging our experience investigating, examining, and reviewing medical products, both at the border and within domestic commerce, to help ensure that the critical resources reaching the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19 are appropriate. We take seriously our responsibility to determine whether the medical products coming into our country are fraudulent, counterfeit or illegitimate, and take action as needed.”

The agency has already issued 42 warning letters to companies marketing the fraudulent COVID-19 claim. One such letter was issued to a seller marketing chlorine dioxide products, essentially industrial bleach, as “Miracle Mineral Solution” and a COVID-19 treatment. The seller refused to stop the sales leading a federal court to issue a preliminary injunction forcing them to stop distributing the dangerous product, the release says.

Through the FDA’s Operation Quack Hack, the agency has identified hundreds of such bogus products including fraudulent drugs, testing kits, and personal protective equipment being sold online with unproven claims. The FDA is working with partners in the technology sector to remove these products from their platforms, the release says.

Anyone aware of these fraudulent devices is asked to report them to the FDA here.

A recent case where mislabeled COVID-19 “treatment kits” were offered for import led to a criminal complaint being filed with the U.S. Justice Department against a British man who sought to profit from the pandemic and jeopardize public health, the release says.