Feds Go After Makers of Jack3D and Execs, Criminal Charges Filed
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Not too long ago, the office of Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch issued a memo vowing to go after execs, and not just corporations, when wrongdoings came to light. According to the latest news, prosecutors are honoring the directive, as six executives have been charged in a case involving Jack3D, a popular supplement.
The FDA has Been After Jack3D for Years
Jack3D is marketed as a workout booster, and itâs incredibly popular. Itâs sold across the country, in stores like GNC. The one place you wonât find it, however, is at a military base exchange. Following the death of two soldiers, military stores looked into the supplement and discovered it contained an ingredient called 1,3 dimethylamylamine, or DMAA for short. Itâs well-known to cause serious health conditions. The soldiers, for instance, died of heart attacks during physical training sessions, after taking substances with DMAA. In 2012, military exchanges pulled the products from their shelves, but the FDA was unable to act. With limited power, the government agency could only reach out to companies that sold products with DMAA and relay their concerns for the ingredient. In total, 11 companies were contacted. All but one pulled the products off the shelves- Jack3D.
The Manufacturers Destroyed Original Products, but Began Reselling Dangerous Reformulations
This new lawsuit involves two well-known products, Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. Sold by USPlabs and manufactured by S.K. Laboratories, the supplements are touted as workout enhancers or weight loss aids. When the FDA mailed out letters, USPlabs was compliant, and voluntarily destroyed about $8 million dollars of their products. However, the reformulated varieties contain aegeline, which the company claimed was natural, when in fact, itâs a synthetic stimulant. The lawsuit claims that execs from the companies conspired with manufacturers in China to create a paper trail to make it appear as if the ingredient was naturally-derived. The Vice President of Manufacturing at S.K. Laboratory actually joked about the falsehoods in emails with Jacobo Geissler and Jonathan Doyle, execs from USPlabs, by writing “Lol. Stuff is completely 100% synthethic [sic].â
Furthermore, the new formulation also included cynanchum auriculatum root extract, which execs knew could cause liver damage, but believed their products didnât contain enough to pose a risk. In 2013 when the new formulation hit store shelves, more than 50 people in Hawaii became ill. Liver failure and acute hepatitis ran rampant. Three people needed liver transplants as a result, and one person died. When USOlabs was informed of the incidents, company officials told the FDA that they would stop marketing it. Instead, they worked to sell it as quickly as possible.
Both Companies and Six Executives Face Serious Charges
Four of the executives were arrested, and authorities anticipated the remaining two would peacefully surrender on their own. The group faces 11 different charges and are being represented by a lawyer in Seattle. Unlawful sale of dietary supplements is the main one, though several of the individuals face charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, obstructing an FDA proceeding, and food mislabeling.
Several Other Companies were Indicted on Similar Charges During the Same Time Period
During the same time period, the FDA targeted five companies for improperly selling supplements.
- Clifford Woods (Taheebo Life Tea and Life Grow Plus)
- Optimim Health
The FTC filed lawsuits against several companies as well, alleging that they had engaged in the sale or advertisement of deceptive or unproven dietary supplements.
- Sunrise Nutraceuticals LLC
- Health Nutrition Products
- NPB Advertising Inc.
Unfortunately, the FDA has little power to control the dietary supplement market, and consumers are largely unaware of this. Because the pharmaceutical industry is so well regulated, consumers tend to expect that the same is true for supplements. Meanwhile, many of the products on grocery and drug store shelves have no proven effectiveness, and some even contain dangerous substances. Not too long ago, makers of protein powders were caught âspikingâ or watering down the mix and claiming higher protein counts than what was really so. Before that, fen-phen was on shelves, killing those who hoped to drop a few pounds. Recently, DMAA remained on store shelves, though itâs an illegal substance. The industry is long overdue for reform. Even though the feds seem to be following through on their plan to prosecute execs, itâs doubtful that will be enough to change an industrywide problem.