SALT LAKE CITY — A Cedar Hills man who prosecutors say has been fraudulently marketing silver products as a cure for the new coronavirus, has been ordered by a federal judge to stop selling those items.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Barlow issued a temporary restraining order against Gordon Pedersen, 60, and his companies, My Doctor Suggests LLC and GP Silver LLC. The injunction comes on the heels of a civil complaint filed Monday in Salt Lake City against Pedersen by U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber.
“The civil complaint alleges that the defendants are fraudulently promoting and selling various silver products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19,” according to a statement from Huber’s office. “The defendants have made a wide variety of false and misleading claims touting silver products as a preventative for COVID-19, including that having silver in the bloodstream will ‘usher’ any coronavirus out of the body and that ‘it has been proven that alkaline structured silver will destroy all forms of viruses, (and) it will protect people from the coronavirus.’”
Pedersen and his companies “have promoted silver products as a treatment for various diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia” since about 2014, the civil complaint states. These items are marketed under various names such as Silver Solution, Silver Gel, Silver Soap and Silver Lozenge.
In early 2020, Pedersen and My Doctor Suggests started contending that the silver products also cured COVID-19, according to court documents.
“Gordon Pedersen falsely claims that My Doctor Suggests silver products can destroy coronavirus, and remove it from the body, assuring the user will never get COVID-19,” the complaint states.
In his online sales pitches, Pedersen refers to himself as a doctor and often gives his sales pitch “in a white coat with a stethoscope around his shoulders, creating the appearance of a treating physician, even though ... Pedersen does not hold a doctor of medicine degree, and is not licensed as a medical provider in the state of Utah,” the complaint alleges.
According to the Silver Health Institute website: “Dr. Pedersen holds four doctor’s degrees. He has a doctorate of naturopathic medicine. He has a Ph.D. from the toxicology program at Utah State University, where he also has Ph.D. degrees in immunology and biology. He is board certified in anti-aging and regenerative medicine and also holds a master’s degree in cardiac rehabilitation and wellness.”
Defendants are creating a false sense of security that may cause consumers to avoid conventional medical treatment and to ignore travel restrictions and social distancing that slow the spread of COVID-19.
In one of his YouTube videos promoting a silver hand sanitizer, Pedersen says he is “going to go out and shake hands with people, doctors, patients, people who are infected possibly with the flu ... and I’m going to have a confidence level that I have protection,” court documents state.
In a podcast interview in March, Pedersen claimed, “If you have the silver in you, when the virus arrives, the silver can isolate and eliminate that virus,” the complaint states. In the same podcast, Pedersen said he could freely travel and was even going on a cruise ship, but was “confident” he would not catch COVID-19 because of his products.
Prosecutors noted in court documents that the “list prices on the My Doctor Suggests website range up to $299.95 for a gallon of the silver solution, a mix of water, sodium bicarbonate — commonly known as ‘baking soda’ — and extract from silver wire — the company’s self-described ‘flagship product.’”
Prosecutors further noted, “There is no recognized cure for COVID-19, and no drug product has been proven safe and effective for the prevention, treatment or cure of COVID-19.”
Even Pedersen knows “silver products are not a proven cure or treatment for COVID-19,” the complaint states. “They are also aware that they cannot legally promote My Doctor Suggests silver products for the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19, and distribute them in interstate commerce. Indeed, defendant Pedersen has stated that, ‘We are not a cure for the coronavirus — there is none,’ and acknowledged that he does not actually know whether the products ‘kill’ coronavirus.”
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Prosecutors described Pedersen’s actions as “reckless and harmful to consumers,” the complaint says.
“Defendants are creating a false sense of security that may cause consumers to avoid conventional medical treatment and to ignore travel restrictions and social distancing that slow the spread of COVID-19,” court documents state.
A federal court also froze all of Pedersen’s and his companies’ assets on Wednesday.
“Even in a time of great uncertainty, there are at least two unchanging realities. There are those who would unlawfully exploit our vulnerabilities, and there are those who will hold such parties accountable,” Huber said in a prepared statement. “COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, and American consumers must have accurate and reliable information as they make important health decisions.”
In issuing the restraining orders, Barlow wrote, “There is good cause to believe that immediate and irreparable harm will result from defendants’ ongoing violations” unless they are forced to stop, and that any harm a temporary restraining may cause to Pedersen’s businesses “is greatly outweighed by the threat to the health and safety of individuals relying on defendants’ products and the representations regarding those products and to the public generally.”
A hearing on the preliminary injunction is scheduled for May 12. As of Wednesday afternoon, the My Doctor Suggests website was offline.