Warning Against COVID-19 Claims and more . . .

On April 24, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it had sent warning letters to 10 multi-level marketing companies regarding claims they or their participants (distributors) were making in social media posts and online related to COVID-19.
The claims included supposed health benefits, as well as pitching business opportunities related to the pandemic. You can read the announcement and obtain more detailed information at FTC Sends Warning Letters to Multi-Level Marketers Regarding Health and Earnings Claims They or Their Participants are Making Related to Coronavirus. These new letters come on the heels of letters previously sent to companies about unsupported claims concerning products that can treat or prevent coronavirus (FTC, FDA Send Warning Letters to Seven Companies about Unsupported Claims that Products Can Treat or Prevent Coronavirus).

The FTC and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have sent scores of warning letters to companies that may be violating federal law by making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about the ability of these products to treat or cure coronavirus. Warning letters have also been sent to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service providers and other companies warning against “assisting and facilitating” illegal coronavirus-related telemarketing calls.

You can visit the FTC Coronavirus Warning Letters to Companies web page to see a list of warning letters related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The FTC also keeps track of consumer complaints related the pandemic and updates the data regularly.  As of yesterday, there were almost 30,000 COVID-19 related consumer complaints, and although less than 50% of all these complaints report a loss, the estimated fraud losses based on those that do is now well over $20,000,000.  For the latest statistics, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Consumer Complaint Data, which the FTC updates regularly.

The FTC and the Department of Justice have also issued a joint statement expressing their views on unfair competition and antitrust laws and regulations to make it clear, especially in these extraordinary times of crisis, how firms (including competitors) are permitted to engage in pro-competitive collaboration that does not violate the antitrust laws.  You can read the statement at Joint Antitrust Statement Regarding COVID-19.

Rimon lawyers continue to follow these and related developments applicable to the Paycheck Protection Program and other government initiatives available through the SBA and related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or assistance you can contact me, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.  Stay safe!!




FDA Examines Social Media: Food, Drugs and, Yes, Social Disease

Although it might not be obvious from the way the memorandum and discussion topic listing is phrased, the FDA Risk Communication Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is examining the use of social media, networking and new technology in assessing its Risk Communication protocols. The memorandum lists some publicly available background materials as reference points for the committee meeting yesterday (Background, May 5, 2011 Risk Communication Advisory Committee Meeting), and there is an associated list of discussion topics for the meeting (FDA Risk Communication Advisory Committee, Discussion Topics).

As we all appreciate, communication and dissemination of information about food and drugs affects the health and safety of literally millions of people. Preventing misinformation, as well as the timely availability of helpful, relevant and important information, is critical to any communication strategy. The Risk Communication Advisory Committee clearly appreciates the fact that technology (including social networking and mobile communication channels) can often quickly provide and make available accurate and helpful information to health and medical professionals, as well as to the population that might be at risk or individuals who need to know in any given situation – whether they are or are not on social networks or online. That said, like any other new technology or new application, implementing a system that optimizes the benefits of the use of technology, while minimizing the risks inherent in such adoption, is not a trivial or simple task.

If you are interested in following the proceedings, or have an interest in the use of social networking, cloud computing or any number of new technologies as they relate to legal, regulatory and compliance obligations and requirements, don’t hesitate to contact me or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work. We will make sure you get the help you need.