The California-based marketer of a dietary supplement called Thrive, which consists primarily of vitamin C and herbal extracts, is prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims that it can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19 under an administrative agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The arrangement proposed by the FTC also prevents Thrive's marketer, Marc Ching, from making similar unsupported claims for cancer treatment or prevention for CBD-containing products. The Ching case is the FTC's first against a marketer of an alleged COVID-19 related health product. In April 2020, the FTC announced that Ching had approved a preliminary federal court order imposing similar conditions.
"There is no evidence that this product prevents or treats COVID-19, and there is no evidence that a CBD product treats cancer," said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau. "This case and the hundreds of warning letters we have sent show that we will remain vigilant towards companies that lack the scientific evidence to support their claims."
According to the FTC's administrative complaint, Ching Thrive has advertised and sold online on its Whole Leaf Organics website since at least December 2018. In March 2020, he started marketing it as an "antiviral wellness booster" that treats, prevents, or reduces the risk of COVID-19. The FTC also said Ching incorrectly stated that Thrive's benefits had been clinically proven.
The complaint also alleged that Ching advertised and sold three CBD-containing products, CBD-EX, CBD-RX and CBD-Max, on its Whole Leaf Organics website, and incorrectly claimed that they were effective cancer treatments. CBD-EX is an ingestible capsule that mainly consists of a combination of cannabidiol and herbal extracts. CBD-RX and CBD-Max are oils that mainly consist of CBD and hemp extract.