Many of us would like to believe a marketer’s claims that an over-the-counter nasal spray can prevent or treat COVID-19. Luckily, the law sets a high standard of proof before a marketer can say its product can prevent, treat, or cure a serious disease. The law requires competent scientific evidence. In its latest case targeting fake COVID-19 cure claims, the FTC says that nasal spray maker Xlear, Inc., broke the law by promoting its saline sprays as effective treatments for COVID-19 without scientific proof.
The FTC says that since at least March 2020, Xlear and its president used deceptive or unsubstantiated claims to promote their nasal sprays on their websites and in YouTube videos, social media posts, and magazine advertorials. For example, the defendants said the sprays would protect against the virus “for up to four hours, helping keep you and others around you safe.” The FTC staff warned the defendants in July 2020 that they were unlawfully advertising their products. According to the complaint, the defendants told the staff they would remove the claims from their websites and other platforms, but continued using them.
The complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, seeks substantial financial penalties and asks the court to bar the defendants from making similar false and unsupported health claims in the future.
Protect yourself — and your wallet — from bogus health products:
- Talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before you try any product claiming to treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19 or any other serious illness.
- Visit CDC.gov and FDA.gov for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19.
- Remember, when there’s a medical breakthrough to treat, prevent, or cure a disease, you’re not going to hear about it first through an ad or sales pitch.
- Know that bad actors post fake reviews and testimonials about their own products. Read How to Evaluate Online Reviews to learn more.
If you spot a bogus health product, please tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.