Friday, September 22, 2006

Enzyte's Swelling of Shame

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, the company that makes Enzyte, the "natural male enhancement" product with the ads that make me eternally grateful for the existence of fast-forward, is experiencing ongoing legal difficulties. This spring, BPN settled (without admitting wrongdoing) claims brought by several states, including their home state of Ohio, alleging deceptive business practices. The charges, though, have escalated to the federal criminal level. Several former executives pled guilty in February to charges related to unauthorized credit card billings for "free" samples of their products — charges brought as a result of complaints to the Better Business Bureau. The owner and founder, Steve Warshak, is facing more than 100 criminal charges. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously sent warning letters to BPN regarding various violations of laws and regulations, including misleading product labels and improper claims of medical benefits of products that have not been properly tested (Avlimil, for female sexual dysfunction, and Rogisen, for night-vision problems), and for falsely claiming to have been certified by the FDA for Good Manufacturing Practices, but this appears to be the first criminal enforcement action. The criminal allegations include false claims regarding the development of Enzyte, endorsements by fictional doctors, false claims of having a customer services department, and repurposing Rovicid, a prostate health product, as a heart medication.

The "Smilin' Bob" character on their TV ads may have "a generous swelling of pride," but he looks to be in serious danger of losing "the respect of the neighborhood."

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