In response to a Federal Trade Commission complaint, a Sherman Oaks-based marketer of a supplement consisting mainly of Vitamin C and herbal extracts has agreed to a preliminary order barring him from claiming that it is effective at treating, preventing or reducing the risk of COVID-19, the FTC announced Tuesday.
Pending the resolution of a parallel administrative case, the proposed preliminary order also bars Marc Ching, doing business as Whole Leaf Organics, from claiming that three CBD-based products he sells are effective cancer treatments, according to the FTC.
“There’s no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Let’s be clear — companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Ching has advertised and sold Thrive online since at least December 2018, through Whole Leaf Organics, with a 50-capsule bottle selling for $36.99.
The complaint states that beginning in or around last month, Ching started to market Thrive as an “anti viral wellness booster” that treats, prevents or reduces the risk of COVID-19. The FTC alleges Ching falsely represents that those alleged benefits of Thrive are clinically proven, though there is no scientific evidence that Thrive or any of its ingredients can treat, prevent or reduce the risk of the coronavirus.
The complaint also alleges that, since at least December 2018, Ching has used his Whole Leaf Organics website to advertise and sell three CBD-containing products, CBD-EX, CBD-RX and CBD-Max. The first is an ingestible capsule consisting mainly of a combination of cannabidiol and herbal extracts. CBD-RX and CBD-Max are oils composed primarily of CBD and hemp extract.
Thirty capsules of CBD-EX retail for $39.99 and CBD-RX and CBD-Max sell for between $75 and $125 per bottle, according to the FTC.
The FTC alleges that Ching advertises all three CBD products as effective cancer treatments. According to the complaint, Ching does not have the scientific evidence to back up the cancer-treatment claims, and therefore the advertisements are false or deceptive.
The FTC also has approved the issuance of an administrative complaint containing the same allegations about the health claims Ching made for Thrive and the CBD-based products. In the administrative case, the FTC is seeking an order permanently halting the allegedly deceptive advertising for Thrive, CBD-EX, CBD-RX and CBD-Max.
The commission vote authorizing the staff to issue an administrative complaint and seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was unanimous. The administrative case is scheduled to begin on Jan. 7.