Televangelist and doomsday preacher Jim Bakker is catching heat from state and federal authorities for pushing fraudulent coronavirus preventatives and treatments for the coronavirus.
Last week, New York attorney general sent him a cease-and-desist order for allowing guest Sherrill Sellman to claim her pricey dietary supplement Silver Solution could kill the coronavirus. Bakker also sells the product on his website.
“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours,” Sellman said on a February taping of the show.
Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have taken notice and have issued warning letters to Bakker and several other companies for selling fraudulent covid-19 prevention products and treatments.
“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent covid-19 products to be a threat to the public health,” said FDA commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., in a Press Announcement. “We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one.”
“There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims.”
The FDA says it is particularly concerned that products that claim to cure, treat, or prevent serious diseases like covid-19 may cause consumers to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, which can lead to serious and life-threatening harm.
The agencies issued joint warning letters to The Jim Bakker Show, as well as to Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., Xephyr LLC doing business as N-Ergetics, GuruNada LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, and Herbal Amy LLC. The products cited in the warning letters include teas, essential oils, tinctures, and colloidal silver.
The FDA has previously warned that colloidal silver – the same product promoted on Bakker’s program and website – is not safe or effective in treating any disease or condition. There are currently no vaccine or drugs approved to treat covid-19, the FDA warned, though there are investigational ones currently under development.
Simons called the warning letters a first step and that the FTC is “prepared to take enforcement actions against the companies that continue to market this type of scam.”
The companies have 48 hours to respond to the warning letters by describing the specific steps they have taken to correct the violations or face legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction.
This isn’t the first time Bakker has been accused of defrauding consumers. In the 1980s, the former PTL Club host and his former wife Tammy Faye Bakker were accused by the FTC of allegedly misusing funds raised on the air for personal use. In the 1990s, he spent five years in prison for accounting fraud.