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Coronavirus Fraudulent Treatments

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This thread will be for all useless, or worse, outright dangerous treatments, remedies, products, and advice claiming to cure, prevent or aid those suffering from or worried about COVID19.

The CDC warnings on fake treatments list seven companies. Six of them target Nuagers, one aimed at fundamentalists.


FTC & FDA: Warnings sent to sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments
March 9, 2020
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Last month, we cautioned you to be on the lookout for scammers taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Today, we have an update.

The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.

The seven companies are:

Vital Silver
Aromatherapy Ltd.
GuruNanda, LLC
Vivify Holistic Clinic
Herbal Amy LLC
The Jim Bakker Show

In part, the letters require the companies to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns. The FTC and FDA with follow up with companies that fail to make adequate corrections. Both agencies also will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies do not continue to market fraudulent products under a different name or on another website....

Alex Jones Is Peddling Toothpaste That He Falsely Says Kills Coronavirus
The “Infowars” founder is just the latest to attempt to profit off of fears over the outbreak.
By Nina Golgowski

Conspiracy theorist and talk radio host Alex Jones is using public fears over the coronavirus outbreak to help peddle toothpaste that he falsely claims can kill the virus.

Jones told listeners on his “Infowars” program Tuesday that silver-infused toothpaste being sold on his website has been verified by federal officials as a coronavirus killer, despite the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying otherwise.

“The patented nanosilver we have, the Pentagon has come out and documented and Homeland Security has said this stuff kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range,” he said. “They’re still discounted despite all the hell breaking loose.”

Products that contain nanosilver, also known as colloidal silver, contain actual silver particles that are suspended in a liquid typically for antimicrobial benefits.

The FDA has previously said that colloidal silver is not safe or effective for treating any disease or condition, however. On Monday, nanosilver was on a list of products that the FDA said it had flagged, along with the Federal Trade Commission, as being sold as unapproved products intended to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Warning letters were issued to companies that were selling the products. One of the letters was issued to the televangelist program “The Jim Bakker Show,” which the FDA rebuked for selling a product called Silver Solution that it advertised as a cure for coronavirus.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday said his office has filed a lawsuit against Jim Bakker and his company Morningside Church Productions “for misrepresentations about the effectiveness of ‘Silver Solution’ as a treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus.”

Schmitt’s office, citing the FDA, said that “currently, there are no vaccines, pills, potions or other prescription or over-the-counter products to treat or cure coronavirus disease.”

FTC Chairman Joe Simons, in announcing the warnings to seven companies, slammed solicitors like Bakker who are trying to cash in on public fears.

“What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Jones is widely known for spreading falsehoods on his program, some of which led to a defamation suit over conspiracy theory claims he’s pushed about the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. In December, a judge ordered him to pay $100,000 in legal fees in that suit.

A spokesperson for Jones sent HuffPost a letter on Thursday that was attributed to Jones’ lawyer and stated that “InfoWars” stands by the product. “Infowars remains committed to following FDA best practices in evaluation of health supplements,” the letter said.

An FDA spokesperson said in an email to HuffPost that it is aware of Jones’ claims regarding the toothpaste but would not discuss specific enforcement matters. The spokesperson noted the seven companies issued warnings and said the FDA and FTC will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces and incoming complaints “to help ensure that the companies do not continue to sell fraudulent products that claim to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Feds crack down on phony COVID-19 cures
APRIL 24, 2020 / 6:08 PM / CBS NEWS

Fears surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus have spawned a rash of fraudulent cures involving dangerous behaviors like ingesting a powerful bleaching agent, or inhaling a toxic gas.

In Dallas on Friday, a federal judge granted a permanent injunction against Purity Health and Wellness Centers, a company that prosecutors allege solicited "ozone therapy," which involves inhaling ozone gas, as a cure or method of preventing COVID-19.

"This defendant preyed on public fear, peddling bogus treatments that had absolutely no effect against COVID-19," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox in a statement.  "As we've said in past COVID-19 civil cases: The Department of Justice will not permit anyone to exploit a pandemic for personal gain."

According to the complaint the company marketed the treatment on its Instagram page and posted statements saying, "The CORONA VIRUS is here in the USA. The only prevention is ozone. #coronavirus #ozonetherapy." Another read,  "Corona Virus update: ozone eradicates lethal viruses and bacteria. #coronavirus #ozonetherapy."

In a recorded phone call earlier this month, Jean Allen, the owner of Purity Health, told a prospective customer that there was a COVID-19- positive patient in the facility for treatment.

"When asked how Defendants would stop the transmission of the virus given that patient's positive diagnosis, Defendants offered as the only protective measure the purported fact that ozone would sanitize everything," court documents say.

At the time of publication, there was no attorney of record for Purity Health and Wellness Centers or Allen.

"Victims suffer financial losses from the wire fraud scheme facilitated by Defendants, and victims further suffer harm via potential exposure to COVID-19 by unnecessarily visiting Purity Health's location for a treatment that does not work," the complaint says.

Last week, prosecutors took similar action against a chiropractor who was advertising homeopathic remedies that would provide "up to 90 percent protection" against COVID-19. Ray Nannis was touting the products as an effective COVID vaccine and treatment produced by his company, Optimum Wellness Solutions.

"As I've mentioned before, we do have a homeopathy," Nannis told viewers in an April 1 video posted to his company's Facebook page.

"It works as, based on history of over 20 years, on dealing with viruses that are very similar," he said. "It can help the body up to 90% deal with what's going on with the body. What it does is it gives the body an immunological and a neurological recognition of the energy, of the frequency of a virus, and this specific one being the coronavirus."

In a phone conversation with a U.S. Secret Service special agent, Nannis said that "if someone became infected with the novel Coronavirus and/or COVID-19, the homeopathy he was offering would minimize any associated symptoms." He then offered to sell the product to the agent for $95 per dose and said he would ship it directly if the agent provided his credit card information, according to the complaint.

While Nannis said he could not call his product a "cure" because of FDA restrictions, he said that it nonetheless "basically" was one "for all intents and purposes," according to the U.S. attorney's office. At this time, there are no products approved by the FDA that prevent or treat COVID-19.

The court granted the temporary restraining order against Nannis and Optimum Wellness Solutions, and ordered that he "immediately cease offering to treat, cure, prevent, or otherwise mitigate the impact of the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19, including, in particular, in connection with any 'homeopathy' or 'homeoprophylactic.'"

Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus 'cure' wrote to Trump
Fri 24 Apr 2020 14.00 EDTLast modified on Fri 24 Apr 2020 18.10 EDT

The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.

In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.

A few days after Grenon dispatched his letter, Trump went on national TV at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on Thursday and promoted the idea that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for the virus. To the astonishment of medical experts, the US president said that disinfectant “knocks it out in a minute. One minute!”

He went on to say: “Is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

Trump did not specify where the idea of using disinfectant as a possible remedy for Covid-19 came from, and the source for his notion remains obscure. But the Guardian has learned that peddlers of chlorine dioxide – industrial bleach – have been making direct approaches to the White House in recent days.

Grenon styles himself as “archbishop” of Genesis II – a Florida-based outfit that claims to be a church but which in fact is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a “miracle cure” in the US. He brands the chemical as MMS, “miracle mineral solution”, and claims fraudulently that it can cure 99% of all illnesses including cancer, malaria, HIV/Aids as well as autism.

Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing MMS as a cure to coronavirus. It advises users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it.

In his weekly televised radio show, posted online on Sunday, Grenon read out the letter he wrote to Trump. He said it began: “Dear Mr President, I am praying you read this letter and intervene.”

Grenon said that 30 of his supporters have also written in the past few days to Trump at the White House urging him to take action to protect Genesis II in its bleach-peddling activities which they claim can cure coronavirus.

On Friday, hours after Trump talked about disinfectant on live TV, Grenon went further in a post on his Facebook page. He claimed that MMS had actually been sent to the White House. He wrote: “Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks! Lord help others to see the Truth!”

Paradoxically, Trump’s outburst about the possible value of an “injection” of disinfectant into the lungs of Covid-19 sufferers came just days after a leading agency within the president’s own administration took action to shut down the peddling of bleach as a coronavirus cure around the US.

Last week the US Food and Drug Administration obtained a federal court order barring Genesis II from selling what was described as “an unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19”. The FDA also ordered a disciple of Genesis II, Kerri Rivera, to remove claims that MMS cured coronavirus from her website.

Last August the FDA issued an urgent warning urging Americans not to buy or drink MMS, which it said was a “dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects”. Drinking MMS can cause nausea, diarrhea and severe dehydration that can lead to death, the federal agency said.

The Guardian contacted the White House asking whether Grenon’s letter had influenced Trump’s comments on disinfectant, but did not immediately receive a response.

Another advocate of bleach as a miracle cure who has been seeking to interest Trump in the treatment is Alan Keyes. He is a former ambassador and adviser to Ronald Reagan who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the US Senate and on three occasions for the US presidency.

Keyes has featured Genesis II bleach products as a miracle cure on his online conservative TV show, Let’s Talk America.

It is not known whether Keyes has discussed MMS with Trump. But the two men have overlapping interests.

Not only have they both featured in Republican party and presidential politics, but they were both leading proponents of the Birther conspiracy theory that wrongfully suggested Barack Obama was born outside America.

Keyes’s TV show is hosted on IAMtv, a rightwing web-based channel. IAMtv’s other leading anchor is Bob Sisson, who has also advertised Genesis II bleach products on air.

In one of his shows, first reported by the Daily Beast, Sisson held up two bottles of Genesis II MMS and said: “Gonna meet Trump, it’s only a matter of time. President Trump’s gonna invite us up there, when he finds out about this stuff.”

On Friday Trump claimed he was being “sarcastic” in his remarks but there is no evidence to back up that claim and he appeared entirely serious as he made them.

The Strange Origins Of Trump’s Hydroxychloroquine Obsession
How a “philosopher” who tweets anti-Semitism, two bitcoin bros and right-wing media helped put an idea in the president’s head.
By Nick Robins-Early

President Donald Trump’s obsession with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus may have started in part because of a self-described philosopher in China who is a fan of white nationalists, tweets anti-Semitic rhetoric and calls chloroquine “a Nazi drug that is here to teach a lesson to leftists about bias.”

Weeks before Trump first promoted the drug, a Twitter conversation about hydroxychloroquine between “philosopher” Adrian Bye and two cryptocurrency investors set off a chain of events that would bring the unproven drug to the attention of Elon Musk, Fox News pundits and Trump.

Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as potentially “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine” and repeatedly promoted its use on the coronavirus. He has asked about it both in public and privately, until recently mentioning it on a nearly daily basis, and the Trump administration has allegedly pressured health officials to distribute it despite their concerns about its safety. The drug’s bizarre path to Trump’s embrace highlights a dangerous information pipeline from questionable sources in right-wing media to the president.

On March 11, cryptocurrency investors Gregory Rigano and James Todaro mused about coronavirus treatments and potential death tolls on Twitter to their then-small number of followers. Bye, who says he has been living in the Wudang Mountains in central China for the past few years and formerly interviewed tech “thought leaders” for his startup, responded to one of Todaro’s tweets about the virus.

“Chloroquine will keep most people out of hospital. The US hasn’t learned about that yet,” Bye replied to Todaro.

The three briefly discussed medical studies and a YouTube video about chloroquine’s use. As Politico has reported, Rigano asked Bye for more information about chloroquine and data on its uses before telling Todaro and Bye on March 12 that he would be “publishing a report tomorrow [with an] eminent scientist, peer reviewed.” 

“thank u james and adrian. next level humans,” Rigano tweeted.

On March 13, Rigano and Todaro touted chloroquine in a self-published, non-peer-reviewed Google doc falsely claiming to be affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Medicine. (All three institutions told HuffPost that they had no connection to the document, and Google later removed it from its platform for violating its terms of service.) The paper largely cited a French study that scientists and the publisher of the journal it appeared in have subsequently criticized for its shaky methodology.

Bye complained to Todaro and Rigano on Twitter that their paper didn’t acknowledge him, saying, “I told you both about Chloroquine, and you didn’t even bother to mention me.” He also expressed his hesitation about the paper’s findings. Rigano replied minutes later that he wanted Bye’s permission to include him but “time was of the essence,” telling Bye to send him his email address. The Google doc was updated to include an acknowledgment of Bye.

The Google doc, with its grand claims and the help of its false affiliation with Stanford and other institutions, quickly went viral and was tweeted out to millions by prominent venture capitalists and Tesla CEO Musk ? none of whom appeared to vet its methods or sources. Fox News and other right-wing media jumped on the paper and touted the drug as a potential quick fix for the virus. Fox News host and informal Trump adviser Tucker Carlson had Rigano on his prime-time show, with Rigano falsely identified as an adviser to Stanford and claiming “what we’re here to announce is the second cure to a virus of all time.” Rigano made a similar appearance on right-wing radio host Glenn Beck’s program and with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who then privately met with Trump in early April to promote the drug.

The day after Rigano appeared on Carlson’s show, Trump mentioned the drug during a briefing for the first time and in the following days heavily promoted it. He called himself a “big fan” and heralded it as a potential “game-changer,” though Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned against the anecdotal evidence surrounding the drug.

Although Rigano and Todaro may have pushed hydroxychloroquine into Trump’s view, the drug was being studied and evaluated before they made radical claims about its effectiveness that skewed the public discourse on it. Hydroxychloroquine is currently being tested in clinical trials, but its effectiveness is still unclear and there is no solid evidence for claims it is the “cure” some have promoted. One recent study by Veterans Affairs and academic researchers that is pending peer review linked the drug to higher death rates in coronavirus patients than those who did not receive it, raising concern about its use and leading to complaints from veterans advocate groups. Another study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no benefit to patients hospitalized in New York. Other research is looking into whether it is effective in treating COVID-19 at earlier stages of the disease.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in late April that hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of a clinical trial or hospital setting while it assessed the risk of adverse effects, including abnormal heart rhythms. A top U.S. government scientist has filed a whistleblower complaint saying that he was pressured to distribute the drug and then was removed from his position when he resisted.

Bye, Rigano and Todaro are questionable sources for medical advice on coronavirus treatment and public health. Neither Bye nor Rigano is a doctor ? Bye has openly stated he’s not qualified to talk about medicine  ? and Todaro is a medical school graduate who became a tech entrepreneur.

In addition to his lack of medical expertise, Bye also appears to repeatedly engage with bigoted ideology and far-right extremists. Bye has repeatedly tweeted anti-Semitic ramblings, has replied to white nationalists such as Richard Spencer and once tweeted a link to an Australian website that has promoted Holocaust denial. In one thread, he complained about Jews taking over “major power centers” and speculated about “Jewish verbal IQ” while asking if another user had “even read Mein Kampf?” He has stated “my hobby is researching Jews. It is very enjoyable.”

Bye also talked about chloroquine in late March on the podcast of Jean-Francois Gariepy, a Canadian white nationalist who The Daily Beast reported is accused of luring and trying to impregnate a developmentally disabled teenager while his U.S. immigration status was being contested. 

“I’m not a white nationalist, not at all. I have a lot of friends who are and I like white nationalists, but I’m not one. I learned from them because there’s important ideas there that we need to understand,” Bye told Gariepy. Bye claimed that he researched chloroquine “using philosophy” and that coronavirus would “destroy feminism.” He also stated that he had been diagnosed with autism.

In a lengthy email to HuffPost, Bye denied that he was anti-Semitic or a white nationalist, asserted the existence of the Holocaust and condemned violence.

“I believe both white nationalists and Jews have important ideas, and it is necessary to understand the truth directly from them, not just soundbites labeling one side or the other as ‘evil.’ I am critical of Jewish power, and will continue to be so,” Bye told HuffPost.

“I stopped publishing on hydroxychloroquine some time ago because I am not a doctor or scientist, and I think the validity of the evidence must be in the hands of doctors and scientists to determine.”

Meanwhile, Rigano falsely claimed to be an adviser to Stanford, appearing on multiple right-wing news shows with that title and including it in his Twitter bio. Rigano also claims to have been working with Vladimir Zelenko, a small-town New York doctor popular in right-wing media and with Trump associates. Federal prosecutors are reportedly scrutinizing Zelenko over his false claims that he received federal approval for a drug study to treat coronavirus.

As questions mount about hydroxychloroquine’s use and potential side effects, some right-wing media has pulled back from its breathless coverage of the drug. Fox News and the Fox Business Network ? which mentioned chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine more than 1,300 times between mid-March and late April, according to The Washington Post ? both dialed down their focus on the drug. Rigano never appeared on Carlson or Ingraham’s show again.

Todaro has recently begun advocating against lockdowns and appeared on conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi’s radio program. Bye announced last month he would move on from tweeting about chloroquine to focus on “larger global issues.” He continues to tweet about Jewish people and cryptocurrency.


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