A business owner told a federal judge in Newark that he sold men’s herbal supplements nationwide that were spiked with the prescription ingredient in Viagra.
Robert Zeng, 55, of Salt Lake City, Utah sold purported natural supplements online and through e-commerce sites under the brand NutopiaUSA, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
In late February, he used three imported kilos of sildenafil to manufacture an unapproved and misbranded drug he called “Mr. Richard Rocks,” she said.
Zeng “falsely marketed and labeled ‘Mr. Richard Rocks’ as a dietary supplement containing only natural ingredients that treated erectile dysfunction, enhanced sexual performance, improved mood, and reduced blood sugar and cholesterol,” Honig said.
The labeling didn’t “disclose the presence of sildenafil, reveal the potentially adverse health consequences that may result from using a product containing sildenafil, nor provide adequate directions for use,” the U.S. attorney added.
The supplement also should’ve required a prescription, Honig said.
Hidden active pharmaceutical ingredients have been identified in products promoted not only for sexual enhancement but also for weight loss, bodybuilding and pain relief.
Rather than go to trial, Zeng took a deal from the government, pleading guilty videoconference to felony misbranding.
U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo scheduled sentencing in federal court in Newark for Aug. 26.
Honig credited special agents of the FBI Newark Field Office and with the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ New York Field Office with the investigation leading to the plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of her Economic Crimes Unit.
She also thanked the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City.
NOTE: The FDA has issued hundreds of public warnings and recall announcements related to these types of fraudulent products.
Its Tainted Products Database helps consumers identify some of these potentially harmful products.
Even if a product isn’t included in the list, federal authorities urge consumers to be cautious when using them.
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