The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Thursday that a civil complaint was filed against a business engaging in “unlawful marketing of unproven COVID-19 treatments.”
Defendants Eric Anthony Nepute and Quickwork LLC advertised that their nutritional supplements, which included such ingredients as vitamin D and zinc, could prevent or cure COVID-19, according to DOJ. The complaint seeks subjecting the defendants to “civil penalties and injunctive relief” in order to prevent continuation of deceptive marketing strategies.
Justice Department and FTC Announce Action to Stop Deceptive Marketing of Purported COVID-19 Treatments https://t.co/KUkL67z6SN
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) April 15, 2021
The complaint is the first enforcement action alleging violation of the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, also known as H.R. 133. The bill was passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2020 and prohibits any “deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID–19.” (RELATED: Poll: Americans No Longer Confident In Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After CDC Pause)
“The Justice Department is committed to preventing the unlawful marketing of unproven COVID-19 treatments,” Acting Assistant Attorney General of DOJ’s Civil Division Brian Boynton said. “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,” FTC’s Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “With this case, the Commission has quickly put to use its new authority to stop false marketing claims related to the pandemic.”