Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker busted selling fake coronavirus treatments

Televangelist Jim Bakker, who spent five years in prison after being convicted on multiple counts of fraud, has run afoul of two state attorneys general, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ABC reported.

Bakker touted a product called “Liquid Silver Sol” on his website and The Jim Bakker Show as a cure for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus currently spreading rapidly across the world.

As a result, Letitia James, the New York attorney general, sent him a cease and desist letter accusing him of defrauding the public, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against him to stop his advertising the product as a cure, and the FDA and the FTC sent a joint letter telling him to take it down.

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James also sent letters to Silver Edge, the company that makes Liquid Silver Sol, and Sherrill Sillman, a “natural health expert” who appeared on Bakker’s show, telling them to stop pushing the product.

“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus,” Sellman told Bakker on his February 12 episode, according to NPR, “but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hour. Totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it.”

The product, she said, “has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV.”

The problem is that it’s just not true. Liquid Silver Sol is a colloidal silver solution, which, according to the FDA, “is a suspension of silver particles in a colloidal base. In recent years, colloidal silver preparations of unknown formulation have been appearing in retail outlets. These products are labeled for numerous disease conditions, many of which are serious diseases.”

The FDA said that no colloidal silver products have been approved by the FDA, and in fact, no manufacturers have submitted “adequate safety and effectiveness data” to make a determination.

The Mayo Clinic goes further:

“Manufacturers of colloidal silver products often claim that they are cure-alls, boosting your immune system, fighting bacteria and viruses, and treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye ailments and prostatitis.

“However, no sound scientific studies to evaluate these health claims have been published in reputable medical journals. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has taken action against some manufacturers of colloidal silver products for making unproven health claims.”

And, as for COVID-19, “there are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19,” the FDA said in a release announcing its letters to Bakker and six other companies selling fake COVID-19 products.

In addition to Bakker, the FDA/FTC sent letters to  Vital SilverQuinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-ErgeticsGuruNanda, LLCVivify Holistic Clinic, and Herbal Amy LLC.

“The products cited in these warning letters are teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver,” the release said. “The FDA has previously warned that colloidal silver is not safe or effective for treating any disease or condition.”

As of March 15, Bakker was no longer selling the products on his website, and the Silver Edge had stopped saying its products could cure COVID-19. Sellman no longer had Liquid Silver Sol on her website as well.

Vital Silver’s Facebook page now has a post saying that content on the page is based on the owner’s “religious beliefs.” The others removed references to coronavirus claims or posted disclaimers that no claims about their products had been verified by the FDA. In the case of Vivify Holistic Clinic, the company closed down a website it called coronadefense.com.

Bakker gained fame as host of the PTL Club, with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker, from 1974 to 1989, when he resigned over a sex scandal. The Charlotte Observer took a look at the Bakker organization’s finances, which led to multiple fraud charges and five years in prison. He began broadcasting The Jim Bakker Show from Branson, Missouri, in 2003.

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[Featured image: Jim Bakker at Billy Graham’s funeral in 2018/AP Photo/Chuck Burton]