As L.A. City Attorney Tackles One Fake COVID-19 Test Kit Company, Another Sets Up Shop
L.A. City Attorney Mike Feurer’s office successfully sued Yikon Genomics to stop them from offering non-FDA approved home coronavirus test kits for sale. An April 6 press release from the L.A. City Attorney’s Office states that the stipulated judgment with Yikon and its U.S. CEO Brandon Richard Hensinger requires they stop advertising and refund money from the sales of the $39 at-home test kits. However, an NPR story describes another company, Wellness Matrix Group, which is being scrutinized by Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, and the L.A. City Attorney’s Office for their own at-home Covid-19 test kits.
According to NPR, the Huntington Beach-based Wellness Matrix Group offered $500 hand sanitizer that promises “kills corona on contact” and Covid-19 tests that “are legitimate and have been vetted and approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Association [sic].” The FDA has made it very clear that there are no Covid-19 tests approved for home use and considers such tests fraudulent. As a result of these claims Wellness Matrix Group has received a cease and desist order from the L.A. City Attorney’s office and a letter from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform asking for an explanation of their false claims.
NPR reports that Wellness Matrix Group’s website removed language indicating their tests were for home use, and on March 31, changed their site to stop offering products for sale. However their Vice President of Marketing David Saltrelli continues to assert that their home test kits are FDA-approved.
As for Yikon Genomics, Los Angeles Daily News reports that the Chinese-based company, whose U.S. offices are located in Foster City, California, has agreed to refund charges to customers who purchased their fake test kits. They have also agreed to stop advertising their at-home tests. As L.A. City Attorney Mike Feurer explained, “We’re fighting to protect a very anxious public from falling victim to COVID-19 related schemes, including so-called at-home tests that are falsely advertised and should not be used for in-home testing. In this crisis, Angelenos’ health depends on accurate, reliable information and legitimate products that can actually help them.”
On April 8, NPR reported that the SEC has suspended trading of Wellness Matrix Group’s stock, and Bloomberg Law is reporting that the company is also being sued by Coronacide LLC, the company whose tests they claimed to be selling. Coronacide LLC makes FDA-approved COVID-19 test for use in healthcare settings.
Update: As of April 21, 2020, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a single at-home sample collection test kit for COVID-19.