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Televangelist Jim Bakker Warned by NY Attorney General

Televangelist Jim Bakker has been warned by the New York Attorney General’s Office to immediately stop promoting a product sold on his program’s website as a cure for the coronavirus.  

The attorney general sent Bakker a cease and desist letter to stop “false advertising” of Silver Solution on jimbakkershow.com after a guest on his program, naturopathic doctor Sherrill Sellman, claimed on a Feb. 12 episode that although the product hadn’t been tested on the COVID-19 virus that has killed 14 people in the United States so far, it had been shown to eliminate another strain of the coronavirus “within 12 hours,” NBC New York reported. 

“Totally eliminates it, kills it, deactivates it, and then it boosts your immune system,” she said, per The Washington Post, as Bakker enthused, “yeah, yeah,” and an on-screen ad touted Silver Solution as a cure for coronavirus and other illnesses. 

The product was advertised at $80 for four tubes or $125 for a variety pack that included liquid, gel and lozenges, per the Post. 

Lisa Landau, chief of the state Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau, told Bakker in a Mar. 3 letter that the show was misleading consumers about the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the coronavirus outbreaking violation with New York law.  

Landau said all Silver Solution products should include a disclaimer that the claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and that the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Bakker was given 10 days to comply with the cease and desist order and faces a fine of up to $5,000 per violation and a lawsuit, the New York Post reported.  

N.Y. State Attorney General Letitia James in a statement urged New Yorkers to “remain calm, but stay vigilant” as the state experiences more cases of coronavirus.   

“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. “I encourage anyone who believes they are the victim of a scam or predatory action to contact my office and file a complaint.” 

Sellman has previously claimed colloidal silver products are effective in fighting illnesses including E-coli, STDs, malaria and the plague, per NBC 

But the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health says there is no evidence supporting healing claims for colloidal silver, and that in fact it can be dangerous, causing serious side effects, including a permanent a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin and poor absorption of some drugs, including antibiotics. 

Bakker’s show provided the Washington Post with a statement claiming researchers have studied Silver Solution’s effectiveness at treating viruses, including HIV, and citing the “countless testimonies of its benefits and what we have seen and experienced ourselves.”  

The statement said the show would provide links to the studies “soon, and encouraged its viewers to seek health information not only from the show but also from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. 

The FDA and Federal Trade Commission have taken action against a number of companies making misleading claims about colloidal silver products, per the NIH website. 

March 9, 2020 update:

The FDA and FTC jointly issued warning letters to Vital SilverQuinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-ErgeticsGuruNanda, LLCVivify Holistic ClinicHerbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show.  The products cited in these warning letters are teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver. The FDA has previously warned that colloidal silver is not safe or effective for treating any disease or condition. The FDA and FTC requested companies respond in 48 hours describing the specific steps they have taken to correct the violations. Companies that sell products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction.

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.