Lawsuit filed against California company over 'at-home' coronavirus test claims

The City Attorney's Office is suing a company for allegedly offering at-home test kits for coronavirus that have not been approved by the federal government.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Friday and names as defendants Yikon Genomics Inc. and its CEO, Brandon Richard Hensinger. The company does business under the name of Yikon Global, the suit states.

A representative for Yikon Global could not be immediately reached for comment.

The city is seeking a court order directing the company to stop advertising and selling the test kids without FDA sanction, plus $2,500 in civil penalties for each alleged violation of the state Business and Professions Code.

"Whenever consumers are motivated in part by fears, they are particularly vulnerable to fraudsters, scammers, and snake oil hucksters and charlatans who prey on those fears to persuade the consumers to seek cures, treatments and other protections, such as tests,'' the suit states.

Yikon has widely marketed at-home test kits online and across social media platforms, according to the suit.

"In this public health emergency, consumers require and under California law are entitled to accurate, reliable, and truthful information about COVID-19, including its testing,'' the suit states. "The health, and even the lives, of California consumers depend on it.''

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The FDA has announced guidance to help rapidly increase the type and variety of testing available in the crisis through emergency use authorizations and other policies, according to the suit. But to date, the FDA has not approved any COVID-19 tests for at-home testing and has warned consumers about the dangers of at-home testing, the suit states.

At-home testing kits are particularly enticing to consumers in Los Angeles, who are under various stay-at-home or "safer-at-home" orders from Mayor Eric Garcetti, the suit states.

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Yikon Global is based in Foster City and bills itself as a genetic testing and in-vitro fertilization testing company largely focused on sales to medical institutions in China, but has also marketed at-home COVID-19 tests, according to the suit.