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Supplement company agrees to fines, injunctions over COVID-19 claims

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Brett Rowland

(The Center Square) – A nutritional supplement company and one of its managers agreed to injunctions and to pay civil penalties to resolve a federal lawsuit that alleged the company deceptively marketed vitamin supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quickwork LLC and one of its managers, Eric Anthony Nepute, resolved the lawsuit after an order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The government alleged in 2021 the defendants made misleading and unsubstantiated advertising claims that their vitamin D and zinc supplements could be used to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to court records. The complaint further alleged the defendants mischaracterized the results of scientific studies to support some of the claims.

In 2022, Quickwork agreed to an injunction and a $1 million civil penalty. But that penalty was partially suspended due to an inability to pay. July 19, the court granted partial summary judgment against Nepute. In an order entered August 2, Nepute agreed to an injunction and to pay $80,000 in civil penalties, according to prosecutors.

The injunctions prohibit the defendants from advertising that their supplements can prevent, cure, mitigate, or treat COVID-19 without competent and reliable scientific evidence. 

"Consumers have a right to receive truthful information when deciding whether to purchase products," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division, said in a statement. "This is especially important when claims about those products could affect how consumers seek to protect themselves during a pandemic."