This represents the first court order administered by the FTC in response to a COVID-19 related health product. The FTC order also bars the marketer of Thrive, Marc Ching, from making similarly unsupported cancer treatment or prevention claims for products containing CBD.
Ching originally agreed to a preliminary order containing similar terms which barred him from making these claims in April 2020, which became a finalized legal action on July 10.
“There’s no proof that this product will prevent or treat COVID-19, and no proof that any CBD product will treat cancer,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “This case, and the hundreds of warning letters we’ve sent, demonstrate that we will remain vigilant against companies that lack the scientific proof to back up their claims.”
FTC reports that it has sent more than 275 letters to companies warning them against making fraudulent claims pertaining to COVID-19.
According to the administrative complaint, Ching advertised and sold Thrive online since at least December 2018, and began marketing the supplement as an “anti viral wellness booster” that treats, prevents, or reduces the risk of COVID-19 in March this year. Ching also used Whole Leaf Organics to advertise three CBD-containing products, CBD-EX, CBD-RX, and CBD-Max, with claims that they were cancer treatments.
Ching was also required in the administrative settlement to send written notices to retailers and customers of Thrive, clearly explaining that it will not treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19. Written notices regarding the three CBD processes, explaining that they will not treat cancer, are also required. Finally, the letters must inform the recipients of the settlement reached with the FTC.
The FTC’s vote to accept the proposed consent agreement was 3-1-1, with Commissioner Rohit Chopra voting no and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.