A Chinese citizen pleaded guilty to being part of a fraudulent scheme to sell dietary supplements made with synthetic stimulants produced in China known as DMAA, an illegal substance.
DMAA was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but is often touted as a “natural” stimulant in dietary supplements. Ingesting the substance raises blood pressure and can lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, according to the FDA.
The US Department of Justice announced that Zhang Xiaodong of Shanghai, China, pleaded guilty in federal court in Dallas on April 12.
He was the sales manager of Genabolix USA and Shanghai Yongyi Biotechnology, two Chinese companies that sell raw materials for use in dietary supplements. Zhang and two other conspirators agreed to sell DMAA to a US dietary supplement manufacturer. While knowingly mislabeling the substance hiding the true nature of the supplements to retailers, according to the Department of Justice. Zhang admitted that he knew that the main supplement retailers would refuse to take products made with DMAA.
“When unscrupulous producers add undeclared or misidentified ingredients to dietary supplements, there is no guarantee that the product is safe for consumption,” said Catherine A. Hermsen, interim director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. in a press release.
Zhang faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
This last case demonstrates the dangers of entering the US market of illegal ingredients from China. In November 2015, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against USPlabs, a Dallas-based manufacturer of dietary supplements that marketed supplements containing natural plant extracts when in fact it had used synthetic DMAA made by Chinese chemical suppliers, according to a report from Dallas Morning News.
USPlabs supplements containing DMAA were marketed to increase energy. But the professional athletes who took the supplements did not pass the doping tests. Some of those who took the supplements said they needed liver transplants to survive, according to the allegations cited by Dallas Morning News .
According to a recently published book, “China Rx: Exposing US Risks of China’s dependence on medicine “, by Janardan Prasad Singh, pharmaceutical companies in the US They are increasingly turning to China to supply active ingredients or to manufacture drugs, due to the lower costs. However, many of these drugs are not regulated; The FDA is not given a sufficient budget to inspect all the Chinese plants they manufacture for the United States, nor is it required to do so, according to the book.
Chinese police showcased illicit drugs and various drug manufacturing equipment seized during raids at drug processing laboratories in Nanning, southwest China’s Guangxi Province, on May 17, 2012. (AFP / AFP / GettyImages) In cases where the FDA was able to inspect Chinese manufacturing facilities, Chinese personnel often blocked the FDA inspection, or engaged in other deceptive tactics to hide unknown substances and continue to use an alias to an provider that was previously prohibited by the FDA.
In recent years, products made in China that turned out to be dangerous found their way to the country. In 2007, contaminated pet food brands made in China caused diseases to thousands of pets. Once again, in May 2014, pet treats made in China were removed from the shelves of the main pet food chains, due to concerns about contamination. According to a report from Time magazine, more than 1,000 dog deaths were related to dried meat treats made in China.
And in 2008, when a scandal of contaminated formula milk spread throughout China, it was discovered that some Chinese brands of formula and other Chinese food products made with milk imported to the United States they contained melamine , a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics. The contaminated formula caused diseases to more than 300,000 babies in China.
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