Federal agencies are suing the owner of New York company B4B Earth Tea for false advertising that their herbal tea can prevent or treat COVID-19.
The brand allegedly advertised on social media that Earth Tea is “the most effective [t]recycling against ”COVID-19that it “works for a few minutes” and will allow those who drink it, “guaranteed to quarantine within 24 hours,” – said the federal authorities in a press release.
On March 3, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice, the Department of Consumer Protection, along with the Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration filed a civil lawsuit against the company and its owner, according to court documents.
As early as April 2020, the brand began advertising Earth Tea to “prevent, mitigate, treat or cure COVID-19,” officials wrote in a civil complaint. According to the documents, the brand sells the product “Earth Tea” for $ 60, advertising it as a more effective alternative than the vaccine against COVID-19.
Authorities say the defendants lack “competent and reliable scientific evidence for these allegations.”
“Their use of deceptive advertising and misinformation, using fears in the midst of a pandemic to sell their product to interested consumers, poses a significant threat to public health and safety,” authorities said in a federal complaint.
Asked if the brand would continue to sell its tea, B4B Earth Tea owner told McClatchy News that although he “didn’t actually read the full information, there should be no reason why we shouldn’t”.
“Our product is a natural drink, like many available products. It happens that ours is effective and can anyone from Big Pharma ha[s] that’s the problem, “said the owner.
“It’s sad,” the brand said in a video posted on Twitter on March 3. “But if we have to stop selling it in the US, we don’t mind doing it.” The company wrote that it “stands behind everything we say.”
B4B Earth Tea posted on Twitter on March 4 that it stopped all advertising in the US
Although the brand said there were “reliable scientific studies” to support their claims, U.S. agencies said there was currently no published report of any well-controlled human clinical trials that would confirm that Earth Tea can treat, prevent or treat COVID-19, ”the court said.
B4B Earth Tea said its trial lasted six months and that they “didn’t invent anything”.
The study says it relied on 15 adults in India with “mild” cases of COVID-19, the complaint shows.
“Neither the alleged anecdotal reports nor this small unpublished study are sufficient as competent and reliable scientific evidence to confirm the claimed health benefits,” the complaint said.
“Such products can delay patients from seeking proven treatments from their doctor. Abuse of patient vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic is unacceptable, ”said Judy McMikin, pharmacist, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Regulation, in a release.
In an Instagram post that was removed from the brand’s account, B4B Earth Tea wrote that “vaccine testing shows that prevention of hospitalization is 85% -96%, while still Earth Tea Extra Strength is 100%”. according to court documents.
The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly warned the company that their “deceptive advertising and distortion violate the FTC Act and the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act,” according to court documents. Similarly, the Office of Food and Drug Administration has warned that Earth Tea is an “unapproved new drug” that violates the FDCA.
Both agencies said they told B4B Earth Tea that “such conduct violates the law and could lead to lawsuits by the government.”
In February 2021 FDA and FTC wrote a joint letter to the brand owner advising him “to take immediate action to address the violations mentioned in this letter”.
In a letter, the FDA warned that the brand’s products are “an unapproved and erroneous mark that cannot be legally sold to consumers in the United States” and that “failure to resolve the issue immediately could lead to legal action, including, without limitation, confiscation and injunction.” .
According to the complaint, B4B Earth Tea immediately removed its claims to Earth Tea against COVID-19 from its websites and all social media accounts. But by April 2021, the brand had resumed advertising of its products as drugs from COVID-19.
On February 24, B4B Earth Tea also stated that they “are almost certain that the extra strength of terrestrial tea is the answer to #Cancer”, but this requires “some confirmation to make this opinion”.
Also, as of March 4, the company’s website still has links to clinical trial results. However, he notes that given the federal complaint, tea may soon be unavailable to customers from the United States.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate individuals or companies seeking to profit from the COVID-19 Health Emergency by illegally advertising untested products,” said Brian M. Boynton, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff of the Department of Justice. release.
This story was originally published March 4, 2022, 2:22 p.m.