DOJ cracks down on dietary supplement makers, marketers

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday it has taken legal action against more than 100 companies that market and manufacture dietary supplements.

The agency unsealed an 11-count indictment against USPlabs, a Dallas-based company that formerly manufactured popular workout and weight loss supplements. The DOJ said it has charged the company, S.K. Laboratories Inc., and its executives with various counts associated with the unlawful sale of dietary supplements.

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USPlabs is accused of telling its retailers and wholesalers that it used natural plant extracts in products called Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, when in fact it was using a synthetic stimulant manufactured in a Chinese chemical factory that company executives knew was linked to liver toxicity.

USPlabs and its principals allegedly told the Food and Drug Administration in October 2013 that it would stop selling OxyElite Pro after it was implicated in an outbreak of liver injuries, and then engaged in an all-hands-on-deck effort to sell as much of the product as quickly as it could.

The DOJ said four of the company executives were arrested Tuesday and two self-surrendered. In addition to the arrests, the department said FDA and IRS special agents seized assets in dozens of investment accounts, real estate in Texas and a number of luxury and sports cars.

The agency also filed five civil cases this week seeking injunctive relief against a number of businesses and individuals that allegedly sold supplements as disease cures or that were otherwise in violation of the law, including Vibrant Life, Viruxo, Optimum Health, Bethel Nutritional Consulting and Regeneca Worldwide.

The Federal Trade Commission has also taken civil actions against Sunrise Nutraceuticals LLC, Health Nutrition Products and NPB Advertising Inc. Those companies are accused of making false, misleading or unsubstantiated health and efficacy claims.