Federal judge orders Florida company to stop peddling bleach-based COVID-19 'cure'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge has ordered a Florida-based company to stop selling a product that it says cures COVID-19 but prosecutors allege contains a powerful bleach that could make people sick when it is ingested, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The April 16 injunction unsealed on Friday against Genesis II Church of Health and Healing and its executives came after prosecutors filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

In the complaint, prosecutors say the company improperly marketed its “Miracle Mineral Solution” as a treatment for COVID-19 making claims that were “unsupported by any well-controlled clinical studies or other credible scientific substantiation.”

The complaint followed a warning letter sent to the company by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 8 over its claims, ordering it to respond within 48 hours about what corrective measures it planned to take.

The solution at issue contains Chlorine Dioxide, a type of product that the FDA has warned will turn into a dangerous bleach when it is mixed with other things.

The company is secular despite having the name “church” in its title and the fact its executives - Mark Grenon, Joseph Grenon, Jordan Grenon and Jonathan Grenon - hold titles of “bishop” or “archbishop,” according to the civil complaint.

Its website describes itself as a “loose knit organization” that was “formed to serve MANKIND directly” and “bring health to the world. ”

No attorney information was listed in the court record for the Grenons, and a company representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Justice Department said Mark Grenon made erroneous comments about a cure for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, in a video on the company’s website.

“The Coronavirus is curable, do you believe it? You better ... it’s wicked good stuff Joe.”

Joseph Grenon then replies: “MMS will kill it.”

In March, Attorney General William Barr ordered all U.S. Attorney offices to prioritize investigations into scams tied to the global coronavirus pandemic, such as the peddling of fake cures, investment schemes and Medicare fraud.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall