The Federal Trade Commission has taken its first action under the new COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act by charging a chiropractor with deceptively marketing vitamin D and zinc products as “proven” supplements for treating or preventing COVID-19.
St Louis-based chiropractor Eric Anthony Nepute was advertising the products under the brand name “Wellness Warrior.” He claimed the supplements were equally or more effective than the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. Nepute and his company Quickwork “baselessly” made the following claims, according to the FTC:
“COVID-19 Patients who get enough vitamin D are 52% less likely to die”;
“People who get enough vitamin D are 77% less likely to get the disease”;
“Wellness Warrior Vita D is more effective at preventing the disease than approved vaccines.”
“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,” Acting FTC 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.”
No supplements proven to treat or prevent the virus
In addition to fining Nepute and his company, the FTC is also seeking to block the defendants from falsely claiming that vitamin D and zinc have been proven to be effective in treating or preventing the virus.
The agency is reiterating that no supplements have been scientifically proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. That said, consumers who see any companies claiming that their products do either should ignore them. The agency recommends getting information straight from government sources like CDC.gov or FDA.gov.
“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,” the FTC says.