- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Food and Drug Administration disclosed yesterday that it had recommended a criminal investigation of whether a leading ephedra seller lied about the dietary supplement's safety.
The FDA also criticized Metabolife International for belatedly offering to turn over 13,000 health complaints from its consumers years after federal health officials sought the records.
Calling the offer "disingenuous," FDA acting Commissioner Lester Crawford said the agency would have a special task force comb the records for evidence of risks from the herbal stimulant.
The FDA has long sought the records as part of its probe of ephedra, which has been linked to dozens of deaths. Three weeks ago, the FDA asked the Justice Department to pursue a criminal investigation one Justice lawyers had been urging.
At issue is a 1998 statement from Metabolife President Michael Ellis to the FDA that his company had "never received one notice from a consumer that any serious adverse health event has occurred because of the ingestion of Metabolife 356."
But court records from private lawsuits against the San Diego company suggest Metabolife had received reports of serious illnesses among ephedra users before Mr. Ellis made that statement, a senior Justice Department official, Eugene Thirolf, wrote the FDA last month.

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