Last week, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office filed a civil lawsuit against KNature Co., Inc. d/b/a Insan Healing, Inc. (Insan), a Los Angeles-based herbal remedy retailer, for attempting to pass off an untested radish paste as an immune-boosting, “must-have product for the protection and prevention” of COVID-19.
The product is made from a combination of “white radish harvested during frost,” garlic, ginger, and other herbs and retails for $99.95 a bottle. According to the complaint, the Insan Healing website falsely touted the product as “an immunity boost to your lungs!” as well as “a must-have product to enhance immunity” and “for the protection and prevention of the COVID-19, cold and flu season [sic].” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly warned that there are currently no FDA-approved medical countermeasures for COVID-19.
The complaint asserts claims for false and misleading advertising and unfair competition under California law. It alleges that Insan has violated state and federal food and drug laws by advertising that its product can be “used or [is] intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention” of COVID-19. The complaint also asserts that the company’s advertisements give the false or misleading impression that its product is a drug for sale in California that can protect consumers from COVID-19 and lung and respiratory issues, and that it is an FDA-approved drug or medical countermeasure against COVID-19.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction stopping the sale of the product, fines of up to $2,500 per violation of California’s unfair competition law, and restitution to consumers for money paid for the product.
Takeaway: The LA City Attorney’s lawsuit is the latest example in the plethora of false advertising investigations, enforcement actions, warning letters, and lawsuits that have been initiated to stop the proliferation of consumer scams and frauds by companies touting fake drugs and treatments in an attempt to profit from the COVID-19 public health emergency.