Doctor Who Hawked COVID 'Miracle Cure' Gets Jail Time

Jennings Ryan Staley of San Diego sentenced to 30 days over hydroxychloroquine scheme
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 6:44 AM CDT
Doctor Who Hawked COVID 'Miracle Cure' Gets Jail Time
File photo of hydroxychloroquine pills.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(Newser) – In the early days of the pandemic, a San Diego doctor offered a beacon of hope—more specifically what he called a "miracle cure" for COVID. Now, however, Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley is going to prison for 30 days over his purported remedy, reports Fox 5. Staley attempted to smuggle hydroxychloroquine into the US from China falsely labeled as "yam extract," says the Justice Department. At the time, hydroxychloroquine was being touted by President Trump and others as a COVID remedy, though studies would later prompt the FDA to crack down on the malaria's drug's use for COVID. Staley began marketing $4,000 "treatment kits" out of his Skinny Beach Med Spa.

“It’s preventive and curative,” Staley told an undercover agent who bought a kit, per the Washington Post. “It’s hard to believe, it’s almost too good to be true. But it’s a remarkable clinical phenomenon.” The doctor said it was a "guaranteed" cure, but added that "there's always exceptions." Prosecutors say he sold a "family kit" to the agent without asking any questions about medical history. He also boasted of how he was acquiring the hard-to-find drug: He said he “got the last tank of hydroxychloroquine smuggled out of China,” and then “tricked customs” with the bogus label.

“At the height of the pandemic, before vaccines were available, this doctor sought to profit from patients’ fears,” says US Attorney Randy Grossman in a news release. “He abused his position of trust and undermined the integrity of the entire medical profession.” Staley pleaded guilty last year. When he finishes his 30-day stint in prison, he will be under home confinement for a year. He also must pay a $10,000 fine. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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