The company’s pitch, which said that the wristbands create a “vapor barrier” of five feet and can provide 96 to 120 hours of protection, may have been alluring for anyone trying to ward off mosquitoes. The FTC alleged, however, that the company and its president, Lou Lentine, “did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up these claims.”
“The defendants took advantage of those concerns and peddled a product without having scientific support that it effectively prevented mosquito bites,” said Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC has settled those charges with the company and is requiring it to have proper research to back any future claims about the benefits, performance or efficacy of this and any other pest-control product. The firm is also paying a $300,000 fine.
On Sunday, U.S. health officials called for “forceful preparation” against Zika, which they expect to hit the country's mainland within the next month or so. (There's already evidence of Zika-carrying mosquitos transmitting the virus to humans in the territory of Puerto Rico and authorities estimate that 1 in 5 residents will eventually be infected.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking more than 300 pregnant women in the United States who were infected with the virus while abroad. There have been 500 travel-related cases documented in the United States so far. President Obama has asked Congress to allocate $1.9 billion in emergency funds to fight the virus.
The World Health Organization has said that the spread of Zika — which officials believe may have led to thousands of cases of a brain defect in babies — is a “massive policy failure” on mosquito control in the 1970s which allowed the flying insects to multiply and spread unchecked. The rapid spread of the virus is disrupting health care and commerce throughout the Americas, where infections are most concentrated. Several Olympic athletes have said they may skip the Games, which are scheduled to take place in Rio de Janiero in the summer, because of the virus. Golfer Rory McIlroy is the latest.
“I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles that have come out saying that it might be worse than they are saying,” he told the BBC. “So, I have to monitor that situation.”
This post has been updated.