Type "coronavirus supplement" or "COVID supplement" into the search bar at Amazon.com, query results serve up multiple pages of supplements without any caveat about the lack of scientific evidence.
The search results could mislead consumers.
Search on the same keywords on Walmart.com or Target.com and searchers will see “Sorry, no product matched “’coronavirus supplement.’”
In fact on Amazon there's a long list of products that serve up based on the keywords in the query. The supplements found on Amazon do not directly claim to treat COVID-19, NPR found more than 100 supplements listed for sale on Amazon that make unsubstantiated and potentially illegal claims they can fight viruses.
The products listed include those sold by a company recently sued by the Department of Justice on fraud allegations related to COVID-19, according to NPR.
Amazon insists “safety” is a top priority. It even responded in a blog post to a Wall Street Journal article about the safety of its products offered and ‘industry-leading safety and compliance program.”
Amazon’s internal policies and Federal laws prohibit the sale of supplements from claiming they can prevent or treat viruses or disease.
In early June, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found 46 products sold on Amazon that claimed each could fight viruses. Among those, NPR found an elderberry supplement claiming to have antiviral properties, and a tincture with Echinacea and garlic labeled virus care, among others.
Then on June 4, the CSPI sent its findings to Amazon, asking the company to stop selling the products and recommended that the company "create a system that better identifies and removes future misbranded and unsafe supplements."
NPR notes that Amazon said it removed the products, but as of today, a long list still surface on the consumer query “coronavirus supplement.” The products include Sambucus Black Elderberry Capsules, Pure Research Products – Del-Immune V, and Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Organs, among many more.
These items on Amazon do not suggest they are a supplement for coronavirus, but Amazon still serves up these products based on the query.