The United States goverment is taking a hard look at companies that may be unethically profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This week a federal court in Utah entered an injunction halting the sale of various silver products that were being promoted as coronavirus treatments.
FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and Office of the Chief Counsel worked with the U.S. Department of Justice on the complaint.
“The FDA will continue to help ensure those who place profits above the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic are stopped,” said Judy McMeekin, FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “We are fully committed to working with the Department of Justice to take appropriate action against those jeopardizing the health of Americans by offering and distributing products with unproven claims to prevent or treat COVID-19.”
In response to a civil complaint filed April 27, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah issued a temporary restraining order against defendants Gordon Pedersen of Cedar Hills, Utah, and his companies, My Doctor Suggests LLC and GP Silver LLC. The civil complaint alleges that Pedersen and his companies are fraudulently promoting and selling various silver products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
The court’s order temporarily stops the defendants from selling or distributing their silver products for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease, including COVID-19. A separate court order temporarily freezes defendants’ assets in order to preserve the court’s ability to grant effective final relief and to maintain the status quo. A hearing on the government’s request for a preliminary injunction is set for May 12.
“The Department of Justice will take swift action to protect consumers from those who would recklessly exploit this public health crisis by offering phony cure-alls for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We work closely with our partners at [FDA] and will move quickly to shut down schemes that promote and sell unlawful products during this pandemic.”
The complaint alleges that, beginning in early 2020, Pedersen and his companies conducted a scheme to defraud consumers throughout the United States, promoting and selling silver products based on fraudulent claims of protection against, and treatment for, COVID-19. According to the complaint, the defendants have made a wide variety of false and misleading claims touting silver products as a preventative for COVID-19, including that having silver in the bloodstream will “usher” any coronavirus out of the body and that “it has been proven that Alkaline Structured Silver will destroy all forms of viruses, it will protect people from the coronavirus.” Additionally, the defendants assert that once in the blood stream, silver nanoparticles can block the virus from attaching to their cells, and thus “prevent the disease totally and completely.”
“Even in a time of great uncertainty, there are at least two unchanging realities. There are those who would unlawfully exploit our vulnerabilities, and there are those who will hold such parties accountable,” said U.S. Attorney John W. Huber for the District of Utah. “COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, and American consumers must have accurate and reliable information as they make important health decisions.”