Two state attorneys general ordered a prominent televangelist to stop peddling an alleged coronavirus elixir on his show.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Jim Bakker for misrepresentations about the effectiveness of "Silver Solution" as a treatment for coronavirus. Schmitt's lawsuit came a week after the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a cease-and-desist order to Bakker, ordering him to stop promoting the supplement as a COVID-19 treatment.
During a Feb. 12 episode of the "The Jim Bakker Show," guest Sherrill Sellman claimed the so-called Silver Solution was able to eliminate some strains of coronavirus.
Asked if the Silver Solution would be effective against COVID-19, specifically, Sellman replied, "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 it has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours."
According to the World Health Organization, there are no current cures or direct treatments for the novel coronavirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there's no known cure for other coronavirus variants that cause SARS and MERS.
"Your show's segment may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak," the the New York cease-and-desist order said. "Any representation on the Jim Bakker Show that its Silver Solution products are effective at combating and/or treating the 2019 novel coronavirus violates New York law."
The product is available for purchase on the show's website, and the Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to Bakker and other companies to stop promoting Silver Solution as a coronavirus treatment.
Schmitt's lawsuit requests a restraining order and permanent injunction that orders Bakker to stop selling Silver Solution as a virus treatment.
James also ordered Bakker to stop promoting the product as a coronavirus cure or treatment and to put a disclaimer on its site that says the product hasn't been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. James' office gave Bakker 10 days to show that it complied with the order, or face legal action.
"In addition to being mindful about our health, we must also beware of unscrupulous actors who attempt to take advantage of this fear and anxiety to scam or deceive consumers," James said in a statement.
Messages to Bakker for comment weren't immediately returned.
Bakker was convicted in 1989 on multiple counts of fraud after he stole millions of dollars in a fundraising scandal. He spent five years in prison before returning to TV in 2003.