X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The world is gripped with fear because of the SARS epidemic. Seeking to capitalize on this fear, certain people have started marketing supposed SARS cures and prevention products on the Internet. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are starting to crack down on false and misleading online SARS claims. MISLEADING OR DECEPTIVE CLAIMS Information about Internet marketing relating to SARS protection or treatment was gathered through an Internet “surf” coordinated by the FTC, with help from the FDA and the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services. Web sites were reviewed that promised that consumers would be protected from SARS if they purchased items such as air purifiers, disinfectant sprays and wipes, respirator masks, latex gloves, certain dietary supplements, and various SARS “prevention kits.” The Internet surf revealed 48 Web sites that tout quite a variety of SARS treatment or prevention products. The FTC also located seven promotions for SARS products from its spam database. FTC AND FDA WARNING The FTC and the FDA have warned Web site operators who suggest that their products prevent, treat or cure SARS without scientific proof for such claims that they must remove misleading or deceptive claims from the Internet. The FTC and the FDA thus sent warnings to Web site operators and e-mail solicitors explaining to them that it is against the law to assert claims about SARS protection or treatment without valid scientific support. The FTC and the FDA intend to revisit the targeted sites to ascertain whether they have deleted or revised unproven claims. LEGAL IMPLICATIONS Web sites can be subject to state or federal investigation and prosecution for making deceptive or misleading marketing claims that their products can prevent, treat or cure SARS. Indeed, companies or individuals who violate the Federal Trade Commission Act could be subject to a federal court injunction, enforceable through contempt proceedings, or an administrative cease and desist order, enforceable through penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Refunds to purchasers also could be ordered. In addition, the marketing of any unapproved drugs could result in an injunction and the seizure of illegal products under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? As much as we all would love to see the true development of SARS protection products, and while some people who market SARS remedies may actually believe that they are helping the cause, we must be patient and await scientifically-backed solutions. In the meantime, as recommended by the FTC and the FDA, we should all be skeptical of claims that pills can treat or cure SARS or that air purifiers or other such products will kill or eliminate the disease. When receiving an Internet pitch to purchase SARS-related products, ask yourself whether a true scientific breakthrough as to SARS would first be learned by you in an Internet pitch — if the answer is “no,” do not consider the product any further. Otherwise, keep washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, consider avoiding travel to SARS affected regions, seek medical attention if you demonstrate SARS symptoms or if you have been in direct contact with someone with SARS, and stay informed from various sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars or the FDA at www.fda.gov/opacom/hottopics/sars . Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris ( www.duanemorris.com), where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology disputes. Mr. Sinrod’s Web site is www.sinrodlaw.com, and he can be reached at [email protected] . To receive a weekly e-mail link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please type Subscribe in the subject line of an e-mail to be sent to [email protected] .

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.