A Missouri chiropractor accused of touting a “bogus” treatment for COVID-19 is the first to be charged under a new consumer protection law.
Eric Nepute and his St. Louis-based company Quickwork were charged with violating the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act after marketing “Wellness Warrior” products, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The law was passed by Congress last year.
Nepute and Quickwork falsely advertised vitamin D and zinc products are equally or more effective than vaccines for the coronavirus, according to the FTC. A complaint filed Thursday seeks to ban Nepute and Quickwork from making these claims “unless they are true and can be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the FTC says.
In May, the FTC warned Nepute in a letter against advertising unproven treatments for the coronavirus.
“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,” FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said in a statement. “With this case, the commission has quickly put to use its new authority to stop false marketing claims related to the pandemic.”
Baseless claims by Nepute and Quickwork included “COVID-19 Patients who get enough vitamin D are 52% less likely to die” and people who consume enough vitamin D are 77% less likely to get the disease, the FTC says.
Under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, it’s illegal to engage in deceptive marketing about the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation and diagnosis of the disease.
“The law also authorizes the FTC to seek civil monetary penalties for first-time violations, a remedy not normally available under the FTC Act,” officials said in a news release.