Several U.S. regulatory agencies have filed a lawsuit against a New York company that claims to offer a cure for COVID-19 in the form of an herbal tea.
The Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month filed a lawsuit against Andrew Martin Sinclair and his companies, B4B Corp. and B4B Earth Tea LLC, claiming the defendants made "deceptive statements" to allegedly prove "Earth Tea" cured the coronavirus.
The Miami Herald reports that the company has been advertising Earth Tea as a cure for COVID-19 since April 2020. Officials say the company claimed that the tea acted as a way to "prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure COVID-19," and that it "worked within minutes."
The federal agencies say Sinclair and his companies were selling the tea for $60 for one 16-ounce jar.
According to Ars Technica, officials say Sinclair even went as far as to post on B4B's website that a 15-person trial conducted in India proved the company's claims that the tea cured COVID-19. However, it offered no study results or data analysis.
"Without any scientific evidence, the defendants claimed that drinking their herbal tea is more effective in preventing COVID-19 than approved vaccines, and cures anyone who has gotten ill within 24 hours," said Samuel Levine, the director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
According to The Miami Herald, the FTC warned Sinclair and his companies multiple times that his advertising claims were likely in violation of the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act. However, Sinclair continued to push what officials said were dubious claims about the product.
"Unfortunately, there are too many people who are taking advantage of this crisis by pushing alleged treatment products that are nothing more than snake oil. We will not tolerate attempts to make a dishonest dollar while putting our communities at risk during a pandemic," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton.
Ars Technica says officials are seeking "civil penalties and a permanent injunction" that would prevent Sinclair from selling the tea in the future.