November 18, 2015 — Federal officials arrested six executives of USPLabs, a massive Texas-based supplement company that sold the weight-loss supplement OxyElite Pro, as part of a crackdown involving 117 manufacturers of supplements laced with illegal ingredients.
USPLabs is accused of of lying to consumers and retailers by insisting that OxyElite Pro and Jack3D contained natural plant extracts, when in fact they contained synthetic amphetamine-like stimulants made in a chemical factory in China.
“The USPlabs case and others brought as part of this sweep illustrate alarming practices the department found—practices that must be brought to the public’s attention so consumers know the serious health risks of untested products.”
Jack3D and OxyElite Pro were once the best-selling supplements in the United States. From October 2008 through October 2013, USPLabs collected at least $400 million in revenue, according to investigators. Along with the arrests, federal agents seized luxury sports cars, real estate in Texas, and dozens of investment accounts.
USPLabs started as a small supplement-maker that primarily sold directly to bodybuilders. In 2008, USPLabs started selling Jack3D, which was followed by OxyElite Pro in 2009. Both contained 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), a synthetic stimulant manufactured at a chemical factory in China.
Investigators found that USPLabs told Chinese suppliers to create and send fake labels indicating that DMAA was an extract of the “geranium” plant. Only after dozens of people experienced side effects did the FDA crack down on DMAA in 2012.
USPLabs responded by re-formulating OxyElite Pro with another synthetic chemical from China. In November 2013, OxyElite Pro was recalled after it was linked to dozens of cases of liver inflammation and liver failure, including one death.
During the outbreak, the Justice Department claims USPLabs began a secret “all-hands-on-deck effort to sell as much OxyElite Pro,” including shipping the product outside the United States to avoid seizure by the FDA.
USPLabs also issued a press release stating that ingredients in OxyElite Pro had shown “no negative liver issues.” In reality, USPLabs knew that studies had found liver toxicity with the new ingredients, but they were included in OxyElite Pro without being tested for safety.
Tens of thousands of people are injured by supplements every year, and even recalled supplements often remain on the market, according to NPR.
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