The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it has sent warning letters to televangelist Jim Bakker and six companies for selling unapproved coronavirus drugs and treatment products.
“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in announcing the enforcement actions.
The products include teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver, which have been cited as not safe or effective for treating any disease, the agency said in a statement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The FDA said it was particularly worried that the products may cause people to delay or stop appropriate treatment, “leading to serious and life-threatening harm.”
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There are currently no vaccines or approved drugs to treat or prevent the coronavirus, which has infected at least 566 people in the United States, killing at least 22, according to Johns Hopkins University.
New York Attorney General Letitia James previously issued a cease-and-desist order to Jim Bakker of “The Jim Bakker Show.” Bakker did not immediately reply to a CNBC request for comment.
Bakker was convicted in 1989 on multiple counts of fraud for stealing millions in a fundraising efforts for “The PTL Club.” He was released after serving five years in prison and returned to TV in 2003 with “The Jim Bakker Show.”
The companies have two days to respond to the warning letter with specific steps they have taken to correct the violations, according to the statement.
The FDA said it has established a cross-agency task force dedicated to closely monitoring marketplaces for fraudulent products related to COVID-19. According to the FDA, the task force and other major retailers and online marketplaces have already removed more than three dozen listings of fraudulent treatment products.
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