ST. LOUIS (WNCN) — A Missouri chiropractor was handed a civil complaint after claiming his company’s vitamin D and zinc nutritional supplements could prevent or treat COVID-19.
The complaint is the first enforcement action alleging violations of the fairly new COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress in Dec. 2020.
According to the Department of Justice, Eric Anthony Nepute and Quickwork LLC, doing business as “Wellness Warrior,” advertised that the supplements, without “competent or reliable scientific evidence” could treat or prevent COVID-19.
Furthermore, the DOJ suggests that Nepute allegedly advertised without scientific support that their supplements were equally or more effective therapies for COVID-19 than the currently available vaccines.
The complaint seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief to stop the defendants from continuing to make deceptive advertising claims.
The COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act prohibits deceptive acts or practices associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation or diagnosis of COVID-19.
Persons who violate the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act may be subject to civil penalties, injunctive relief and other remedies available under the FTC Act.
The complaint also alleges violations of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive conduct, and false advertising, respectively.
“The Justice Department is committed to preventing the unlawful marketing of unproven COVID-19 treatments,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Deceptive marketing of unproven products discourages consumers from following health and safety guidelines provided by public health officials. The unlawful spreading of COVID-19 misinformation to sell a product will not be tolerated.”
“The defendants’ claims that their products can stand in for approved COVID-19 vaccines are particularly troubling: we need to be doing everything we can to stop bogus health claims that endanger consumers,” said Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter of the FTC. “With this case, the Commission has quickly put to use its new authority to stop false marketing claims related to the pandemic.”