A Georgia man and his company have been charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by selling a drug claiming to treat COVID-19.
Matthew Ryncarz, and his company, Fusion Health and Vitality, LLC d/b/a/ Pharm Origins, are accused of selling a misbranded drug called “Immune Shot” that they falsely claimed would lower consumer’s risk of contracting COVID-19 by nearly 50 percent, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
In March 2020, during the midst of the global COVID-19 public health crisis, Ryncarz, through his company, Pharm Origins, created a website and began selling “Immune Shot” for $19 a bottle. Among other things, the website represented that “YOU will learn in JUST MINUTES … how to LOWER your risk of COVID-19 by nearly 50%.” Further, to sell “Immune Shot,” Ryncarz and Pharm Origins targeted individuals, ages 50 and older, with heavy-handed sales pitches, such as “The NEXT FIVE MINUTES could save your life,” “We are offering you the exclusive price of only $19 per bottle because we know that Immune Shot could be the most important formula in the WORLD right now due to the new pandemic,” “Immune Shot is Not a Luxury, It is a Necessity Right Now,” “Point Blank, if YOU Leave, YOU are at Risk,” and “Is Your Life Worth $19? Seriously, Is It?”
Ryncarz and Pharm Origins sold “Immune Shot” to consumers in the Southern District of Georgia and outside of the state of Georgia. The defendants were charged by way of an Information, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The Information alleges that “Immune Shot” was a misbranded drug within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 352(a)(1), in that it bore false and misleading labeling.
“Our office is committed to ensuring that businesses do not take advantage of a global health crisis and people’s fears in order to unlawfully make a buck,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make sure consumers are not exploited during these challenging times.”
U.S. Attorney Christine expressed appreciation to investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and to David A. Frank, Senior Litigation Counsel with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, Lynn M. Marshall, Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement, Office of the Chief Counsel, FDA, and to the FBI for their assistance in this prosecution.
“Americans expect and deserve treatments that are safe, effective and meet appropriate standards. The FDA is actively monitoring the marketplace for misbranded products represented as preventing, curing, or treating COVID-19,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Miami Field Office. “Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder that we will take action against those who take advantage of a crisis by potentially jeopardizing the health of Americans.”
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners will not allow anyone to take advantage of our citizens’ fears during a pandemic like COVID-19,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “It is especially concerning because this alleged scheme targeted citizens who are most vulnerable to the virus.”
Criminal informations contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Thomas Clarkson and Patrick J. Schwedler are prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.
Please report COVID-19 fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at (866) 720-5721, or go to justice.gov/disastercomplaintform.