“Ebola does have a cure."
That statement on Twitter is among several claims on social media that U.S. regulators highlighted in a Sept. 23 warning letter to a company whose products include “Silver Sol Nano Silver" and “High Potency CBD Hemp Oil."
FDA and FTC warned Natural Solutions Foundation that statements on Twitter, Facebook and its website rendered its products unapproved drugs in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C).
Regulators expressed concern over a number of statements that Nano Silver treats Ebola, the deadly virus that is currently an epidemic in West Africa and is projected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cause as many as 1.4 million infections in Sierra Leone and Liberia by January 2015.
Natural Solutions Foundation, whose medical director Rima Laibow was a recipient of the warning letter, did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.
One YouTube video embedded on the company’s homepage rebuts the widely-held view that there is no treatment for Ebola. "As of now it is said that there is no treatment against Ebola, and that is not true," the warning letter quoted the video. “In fact there is a well-known, well characterized, nutrient. That is Nano Silver.... [I]t does kill every pathogen against which it has been tested, worldwide, without exception."
A webpage quoted by FDA and FTC declares, "Nano Silver is the world's only hope against Ebola and the other antibiotics/antiviral resistant pathogens." On the same webpage, the company claims the U.S. government has been aware of this fact for at least five years, but has “sought to suppress the truth."
A separate webpage says CBD will alleviate the awful pain from Ebola “while the silver works its wonders…", according to the warning letter.
A Facebook post referenced in the warning letter declared, "Rima E. Laibow MD, Natural Solutions Foundation Medical Director, saying Nano Silver likely to address genetically novel Ebola virus, offers hope for nations impacted by the West African Ebola outbreak and the rest of the world."
Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade organization representing the dietary supplement industry, characterized such claims of treating Ebola as “downright fraudulent activity."
“They are taking advantage of people’s anxieties," he said in a phone interview.
Regulators fired off the warning letter the same day the Washington Post reported that scientists plan on bringing clinical trials for Ebola treatments to West Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) this week reported 5,843 cases and 2,803 deaths in connection with the current Ebola outbreak. The virus is particularly challenging to health care workers because there is no cure for it and no treatments other than experimental ones.
Unlike most Ebola outbreaks that ended within two to five months, the current one has “been circulating for at least nine months, with no early end to the outbreak in sight," according to the WHO in an update.