A California-based marketer of a supplement consisting mainly of Vitamin C and herbal extracts, David Ching, has agreed to a preliminary order barring him from claiming that it is effective at treating, preventing, or reducing the risk of COVID-19. Ching’s company Whole Leaf Organics has claimed its CBD products to be a treatment for cancer and now claims it is effective in preventing or treating COVID-19.
“There’s no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “Let’s be clear: companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one.”
The complaint 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.
Ching advertises all three CBD products as effective cancer treatments. According to the FTC’s complaint, however, Ching does not have the scientific evidence to back up the cancer-treatment claims, and therefore the advertisements are false or deceptive. According to the FTC’s federal district court complaint, since at least December 2018, through Whole Leaf Organics, Ching has advertised and sold Thrive online, with a 50-capsule bottle selling for $36.99.
The federal court complaint states that beginning in or around March 2020 Ching started to market Thrive as an “anti viral wellness booster” that treats, prevents, or reduces the risk of COVID-19. In addition, the FTC alleges that Ching falsely represents that these benefits of Thrive are clinically proven; however, there is no scientific evidence that Thrive or any of its ingredients can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19.
he Commission 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 5-0. The administrative case is scheduled to begin on January 7, 2021.