Feds: What Dietary Supplement Execs Did Was Criminal

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The Justice Department is cracking down hard on makers of dietary supplements who lie about what their product can do—and what it really contains. The department says it has brought more than 100 civil and criminal cases against makers and marketers of the supplements in a yearlong sweep, including a case announced Tuesday against USPlabs, a maker of what the DOJ terms “widely popular” workout and weight loss supplements including Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, NPR reports. 

The indictment accuses the company and six execs of claiming its supplements contained natural plant extracts, when the key ingredient was really a “synthetic stimulant manufactured in a Chinese chemical factory,” the department said in a statement.

When the USPlabs supplements were linked to liver damage in 2013, the company told the FDA it would take OxyElite Pro off the market, but instead hustled to sell off inventory as fast as possible, according to the indictment.

The Justice Department says it has worked with other agencies, including the FDA and the US Anti-Doping Agency, to bring cases against other firms, including Sunrise Nutraceuticals, which is accused of falsely claiming that its Elimidrol supplement was “guaranteed to work” for people in withdrawal from opiates, the Washington Post reports. 

The New York Times reports that news of the crackdown caused share prices to drop for major supplement retailers, including GNC Holdings and Vitamin Shoppe. (Dietary supplements are blamed for 23,000 ER visits every year.)

By Rob Quinn

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