The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a parallel pandemic of false and dangerous claims that a wide variety of products will prevent, treat or cure the virus, and that such treatments are superior to clinically developed and tested vaccines. Federal law is clear: no one can market a product to prevent or treat a disease or illness unless the product is FDA-approved for such uses.

In July 2020, Justice Catalyst Law, with partners Center for Science in the Public Interest and People’s Parity Project, wrote letters to the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, regarding their concerns about claims by Dr. Joseph Mercola on his websites and social media sites that his nutritional supplement products could prevent or treat COVID-19.

On February 18, 2021, the FDA issued a warning letter to Mercola, stating that he and his company are violating federal law, and he must immediately stop making false and illegal claims. An excerpt of the FDA’s letter to Mercola reads:

“The FDA has observed that your website offers ‘Liposomal Vitamin C,’ ‘Liposomal Vitamin D3,’ and ‘Quercetin and Pterostilbene Advanced’ products for sale in the United States and that these products are intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people. Based on our review, these products are unapproved new drugs sold in violation of section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), 2pt1 U.S.C. § 355(a). Furthermore, these products are misbranded drugs under section 502 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352.”

The FDA’s letter further directed Mercola to “take immediate action to address the violations cited in [the] letter,” and advised Mercola to review its websites, product labels, and other labeling and promotional materials to ensure that it does not misleadingly represent its products as safe and effective for a COVID-19-related use for which they have not been approved by FDA. The FDA also added to a published list on the FDA’s website of “Fraudulent COVID-19 Products.”