WASHINGTON – A wellness company in Texas has been barred from marketing “ozone therapy” as a cure for coronavirus following a complaint by the Department of Justice arguing that the argument is misleading and may have adverse health implications, the department reported Friday.
Purity Health and Wellness Centers Inc. in Dallas used its Instagram page to claim to prospective clients that its ozone products would cure and prevent COVID-19, according to a lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors in Texas earlier this week. One post said: “CORONAVIRUS is here in the United States. Ozone is the only cure, #coronavirus #ozonetherapy.”
The company wrote in other posts: “Concerns about CORONAVIRUS –
you don’t have to worry if you’re doing ozone! #coronavirus #epidemic #ebola #ozonetherapy.” and “Corona Virus update: ozone eradicates deadly viruses and bacteria.”
A federal judge issued a permanent injunction on Thursday which prohibited Purity Health and Wellness from making such claims. The firm will not claim it committed fraud in an arrangement with the Justice Department but has agreed to stop making false claims relating ozone treatments to COVID-19.
Pictures supporting ozone therapy remain on the company’s Instagram page as of Sunday afternoon, but posts saying it may treat COVID-19 seem removed from the page.
Attorney General William Barr has ordered all 94 U.S. attorneys to crack down vigorously on illegal activity designed to exploit the pandemic for profit.
Several were arrested, including a man accused of attempting to sell $750 million worth of non-existent face masks and another reportedly hoarding personal protective equipment and price gouging.
The Justice Department revealed last week that it has uncovered hundreds of scams online related to the pandemic.
These include a fake website to collect donations for coronavirus relief efforts from the American Red Cross, and websites that claim to be part of government services and organisations to manipulate people into giving personal information.
U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Erin Nealy Cox said Purity Health and Wellness manipulated the pandemic for benefit by peddling fraudulent therapies.
“The Department of Justice does not stand by and encourage the fraudulent marketing of so-called COVID-19 therapies that do little good and that may be detrimental,” said Assistant Procurator General Jody Hunt of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
“We are working with law enforcement and department partners to deter those who want to benefit from this pandemic by marketing worthless goods.”
Enquiry into the firm started last week when the Instagram posts were identified by an FBI special agent. The owner of the firm told a caller, who posed as a prospective client, that ozone treatment is healthy for children and will eliminate viral and bacterial infections according to court documents.
The owner also reported that these therapies were successful at 95 percent in treating COVID-19, and that doctors had recommended a “ozone steam sauna” for patients with coronavirus, authorities said.
There are no medications or therapeutics licensed for COVID-19 prevention or treatment. Some drugs, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine – described as a possible “game-changer” by President Donald Trump and are under review as alternative COVID-19 therapies in clinical trials.
However, the Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that the malaria drugs have caused significant heart rhythm issues and should not be used outside hospital or clinical trial settings.
Trump speculated on the use of “light inside the body” and disinfectants to treat COVID-19 during a White House briefing Thursday. The President proposed “by injection” the use of disinfectants, prompting alerts from health experts and companies, including Lysol.
The company said that its drug (ozone Therapy) would be used as a treatment “under no circumstances”
Trump later said he was joking and he did not support the use of disinfectants, though he maintained that sunlight might be a effective coronavirus cure.
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