SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man who authorities say posed as a medical doctor to sell silver-based products as a bogus treatment or cure for COVID-19 now faces federal criminal charges.
Gordon H. Pedersen, 60, of Cedar Hills, wore a stethoscope and white lab coat in videos and photos posted on the internet to promote and sell the ingestible products despite having no evidence that they treated or cured the novel coronavirus, according to an indictment in U.S. District Court.
A grand jury indicted Pedersen on one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and four counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead.
In addition to the charges against Pedersen, the company he previously owned, My Doctor Suggests LLC, has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to its misleading marketing of ingestible silver products as a drug treatment for COVID-19. A restraining order in April shut down the company, which has severed ties with Pedersen and agreed to cooperate in his prosecution.
“The federal felony allegations are serious, especially against the backdrop of this pandemic where Americans are yearning for effective relief. If proven, this conduct reveals a scheme where greed was a higher priority than conveying truth to consumers,” U.S. Attorney John Huber said.
The indictment alleges that Pedersen falsely presented himself as a medical doctor and promoted and fraudulently sold silver products on the internet as a protection against and treatment for COVID-19.
Pedersen does not hold a doctor of medicine degree, and is not licensed as a medical provider in the state of Utah, court documents say.
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.”
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,” according to court documents. 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.’”
My Doctor Suggests operated without properly registering with the Food and Drug Administration, according to the indictment.
“The FDA is actively monitoring the marketplace for fraudulent products represented as preventing, curing or treating COVID-19. Americans expect and deserve treatments that are safe, effective and meet appropriate standards, and the agency will continue to bring to justice those who place profits above the public health during this pandemic,” said Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.
A court order requires My Doctor Suggests to stop any fraudulent promotions and clearly disavow any statement that its silver products treat or prevent COVID-19. It also requires the company to provide full refunds. Affected customers can contact My Doctor Suggests at 1-866-660-9868 or email@example.com.