Officials with the New York State Office of the Attorney General have ordered TV preacher (and ex-convict) Jim Bakker to cease claiming that a compound made of silver can cure coronavirus.
Bakker in February interviewed Sherrill Sellman, a naturopathic doctor who has been selling a preparation called Silver Solution. Bakker asked her whether the substance could be effective against coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), to which Sellman replied, “Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours – totally eliminates it, kills it, deactivates it, and then it boosts your immune system….”
Bakker’s ministry has been selling the silver mixture through his “Jim Bakker Show,” which is based in Branson, Mo., and airs daily on several satellite networks and online.
In a March 3 letter to Bakker, Lisa Landau, chief of the Health Care Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office, noted that the World Health Organization “has noted that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat this disease. Therefore, any representation on the Jim Bakker Show that its Silver Solution products are effective at combatting and/or treating the 2019 novel coronavirus violates New York law.
“Your show,” Landau added, “is hereby advised to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims regarding the Silver Solution’s effectiveness as they violate New York’s consumer protection statutes … which prohibit fraudulent and deceptive business practices and false advertising.”
The letter went on to say, “Additionally, you are advised to immediately affix the disclaimer – ‘These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.’ – to all Silver Solution products listed on the show’s online store.”
A few days later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) followed suit and told Bakker to stop marketing the silver product as a cure for coronavirus.
“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a public statement. “We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one.”
In addition, officials in Missouri filed a lawsuit against Bakker on March 10 designed to force him to stop promoting Silver Solution as a coronavirus cure.
NBC News reported that FDA officials are concerned that use of untested remedies may lead people to delay or stop effective forms of treatment, “leading to serious and life-threatening harm.”
Bakker, the disgraced former head of the PTL Ministry, went to a federal prison in 1989 after being found guilty of a series of crimes related to the ministry’s finances. He was originally sentenced to 45 years, but a federal appeals court later reduced that to eight years and Bakker was released after serving only five years.
In 2003, Bakker returned to televangelism. His ministry now focuses mainly on warnings of the End Times and the Apocalypse, and he sells a variety of products such as survival food and supplies for “donations.”