FTC and DOJ bring first case under new COVID-19 consumer protection law
by Colleen Tressler
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
There are no supplements proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. But that doesn’t stop some companies from making these kind of unsubstantiated claims, or even false claims that their products work as well — or better — than available COVID-19 vaccines. If you see claims like these, the FTC wants you to ignore them.
The first action taken under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act charges St. Louis-based chiropractor Eric Anthony Nepute and his company Quickwork LLC with deceptively marketing vitamin D and zinc products as proven immunity boosters that effectively treat or prevent COVID-19. What’s more, the defendants claim their products offer equal or better protection from the disease than available vaccines. The complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf, says that the defendants don’t have the scientific evidence to back up their treatment or prevention claims, much less the claims that their products are as good as (or superior to) approved COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition to financial penalties, the government seeks to bar the defendants from making additional unsubstantiated claims about the effects of vitamin D and zinc on COVID-19.
When it comes to fighting COVID-19 and spotting unsupported treatment claims, follow these tips:
- When there’s a medical breakthrough to treat, prevent, or cure a disease, you’re not going to hear about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch.
- Always talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before you try any product claiming to treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19.
- Visit CDC.gov and the FDA.gov for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and available vaccines.
Now, share what you know, and ask others to do the same.
- Learn more about COVID-related scams at ftc.gov/coronavirus
- Sign up for consumer alerts at ftc.gov/consumeralerts
- Tell us about scams you’re seeing at ReportFraud.ftc.gov