A recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) action demonstrates how the FTC has pivoted toward enforcement actions based on specific acts of Congress and rules in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in AMG Capital. Congress passed the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act in December 2020, which made deceptive acts or practices involving the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID-19 unlawful. Since the pandemic began, the FTC has sent hundreds of warning letters to companies allegedly making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims regarding their products’ ability to treat or prevent COVID-19.
Despite the hundreds of warning letters, the FTC did not file its first complaint under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act until April 15, 2021. In United States v. Nepute et al., the FTC and Department of Justice alleged that Quickwork and its chiropractor CEO, Eric Nepute, deceptively advertised that its vitamin D and zinc products are scientifically proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. Notably, the FTC had previously sent Nepute a warning letter in May 2020 regarding the same practices. After receiving the warning letter, however, the advertiser continued to make claims such as “COVID-19 Patients who get enough Vitamin D are 52% less likely to die.” Continue Reading