The City Attorney's Office filed court papers Tuesday alleging a Santa Monica-based company offered at-home test kits for coronavirus that were not approved by the federal government and also made false claims about their effectiveness to induce more purchases.
The still unofficial Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against RootMD Inc. seeks a court order directing the company to stop its allegedly false advertising regarding the effectiveness of the kits, plus $2,500 in civil penalties for each alleged violation of the state Business and Professions Code.
"In this public health emergency, consumers require and under California law are entitled to accurate, reliable, and truthful information about COVID-19, including its testing,'' the suit states. "The health, and even the lives, of California consumers depend on it.''
A representative for RootMD could not be immediately reached for comment. RootMD has widely marketed at-home test kits online and across social media platforms, according to the suit. The company represents itself as a digital platform "aimed at personalized medicine for chronic gut diseases,'' the plaintiffs state.
The company's website states that at-home test kits are available for $249 and states that the same procedures were used by the Chinese government to confirm who has been exposed to the virus and who is now immune, according to the plaintiffs.
However, contacted by the City Attorney's Office, a RootMD representative stated that the company stopped selling the kits as of April 8, the plaintiffs state.
The FDA has announced guidance to help rapidly increase the type and variety of testing available in the crisis through emergency use authorizations and other policies, according to the plaintiffs. But to date, the FDA has not approved any COVID-19 tests for at-home testing and has warned consumers about the dangers of at-home testing, plaintiffs say.