The COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act

By Beth Clay

June 8, 2021 (Falls Church, VA). In March 2020, when the COVID-19 Global Pandemic was declared, the ICA reminded its members and the broader chiropractic community that no claims should be made in regard to the role chiropractic care might play in the prevention, treatment, cure, or mitigation of COVID-19. Making such a claim during a declared pandemic puts any provider potentially under the scrutiny not just of their state board but also of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Included in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law on December 27, 2020 was a bill titled, “The COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act”. It is now Pub. L. No. 116-260 Title XIV, § 1401(b)(1). This law “makes it unlawful, for the duration of the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, for any person, partnership, or corporation to engage in a deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), that is associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID-19.

A member of the chiropractic profession has become the first person/organization to be prosecuted under this new law by the FTC. He is not an ICA member, and is not being prosecuted for making claims about chiropractic. The headlines so far are emphasizing his being a chiropractor, not that he was making claims about dietary supplements.

The FTC alleges that this doctor formed a dietary supplement company and began a year ago to market on social media sites, websites, and lengthy video messages products such as Vitamin D and Zinc and is alleged to have made claims about their ability to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent COVID-19. These acts are doubly problematic because not only is the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act a factor, but additional violations of the law may be addressed given these were dietary supplements. US Federal law stipulates that one cannot make claims to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent a disease unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the company’s evidence and approved statements prior to marketing. Anytime ‘cure, treat, prevent, or mitigate’ are mentioned in regards to a product, the FDA deems them drugs as per existing law.

The ICA wants to remind its members not to make claims that are not substantiated with evidence. When it comes to COVID-19, we again caution that to date to our knowledge, there are not any clinical studies published in peer reviewed journals studying the direct benefit of chiropractic care as a preventive, curative, or mitigating factor for patients exposed to the virus; or diagnosed with COVID-19. A year ago, we raised the alarm that research was needed, that research resources focused specifically on the whole person effect of regular chiropractic care needed to be studied in real world situations – i.e. practice-based research networks. We called for an increase in basic science and clinical research. While some evidence exists regarding immune response of the human body to regular chiropractic care unless substantial resources are devoted to high quality research and those studies published in peer reviewed journals, the evidence would not likely meet the FTC standard; and more importantly meet the evidence standards within the chiropractic profession.

This new federal law, which is being tested for the first time, is something many in the profession may not know about. ICA continues to work to keep you informed.

Stay Informed

Get the latest chiropractic news, events, and more.