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Posted April 20, 2021

Chiropractor Who Claimed Vitamin D and Zinc Work Better Than COVID Vaccines Charged by FTC

On April 15, 2021, the FTC charged St. Louis-based chiropractor Eric Anthony Nepute and his company Quickwork LLC with falsely promoting supplements containing vitamin D and zinc for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and claiming that these products are more effective than available COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. It's the first case the agency has brought to court under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act of 2021, which prohibits deceptive marketing related to the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID—19, or any government benefit related to COVID-19.

According to the FTC's complaint, Nepute promoted his Wellness Warrior Vita D and Wellness Warrior Zinc and other supplements on Facebook and various other websites with statements such as "Vitamin D3 will prevent [COVID-19] from infecting your body," and "Tak[ing] zinc every day" serves as a treatment for COVID-19 by "boosting the immune system." In one video, statements were made that Nepute's protocol, including vitamin D and zinc, "actually works better than . . . any vaccine," and, therefore, customers did not "really need a vaccine." The complaint also noted the "Research page" featured on Wellness Warrior websites that linked to these videos, as well as "retrospective observational studies, news articles, blog posts, and PowerPoint presentations, none of which constituted competent or reliable scientific evidence that Vitamin D treats or prevents COVID-19."

(See ConsumerLab's Vitamin D Supplements Review and Zinc Supplements and Lozenges Review for more information about vitamin D and zinc and COVID-19).

"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. With this case, the Commission has quickly put to use its new authority to stop false marketing claims related to the pandemic," Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter stated in the agency's news release about the charges.

The FTC has asked the court to bar Nepute from making unsubstantiated claims and to impose monetary civil penalties. The COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act permits a fine of up to $43,792 for each violation of the Act.

The agency first sent Nepute a warning letter for promoting intravenous vitamin C for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in May of 2020, and advised him to review all other claims he was making about products he was selling and to stop making any unsubstantiated claims. However, according to the FTC, he continued to falsely market vitamin D and zinc. Nepute was one of more than 35 supplement companies, chiropractic practices, and/or "healing" and "wellness" clinics warned by the FTC for making false claims about natural treatments for COVID-19.

See ConsumerLab's answer to the question: Do any supplements help with the coronavirus (COVID-19)? Do supplements like vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, or herbals work?

For more information, use the link below.

In First Action Under COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, FTC Seeks Monetary Penalties for Deceptive Marketing of Purported Coronavirus Treatments

See Related Warnings:

FTC Warns 35 More Companies for Coronavirus Claims

Niagen Cannot Be Promoted to Prevent or Treat COVID-19, Warns FD

FDA Warns for Promoting Supplements as COVID-19 Treatments

Seller of "Dr. Hotze's Immune Pak" Products Warned for COVID-19 Claims