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Firm Halting Sales of Dietary Supplement Anatabloc

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 8:22am
MICHAEL FELBERBAUM, AP Business Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The dietary supplement maker at the center of a federal trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife is halting sales of its product called Anatabloc.

Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Monday it is voluntarily stopping sales of Anatabloc and another supplement called CigRx while it sorts out issues with the Food and Drug Administration.

Late last year, the federal agency sent a warning letter to the company formerly known as Star Scientific saying that its products contain a new dietary ingredient that requires approval before it can be marketed. The company did not seek such approval.

The agency also said the company's website had improperly promoted Anatabloc as a drug by suggesting it can be used to treat various diseases, including ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.

The company, which since changed its name and moved its headquarters to Sarasota, Florida, first began selling Anatabloc in August 2011 online and over the telephone before it was put on shelves at nutritional supplement retailers GNC. A potential class-action lawsuit naming both as defendants was filed in late January in federal court in Illinois alleging false claims about the supplement, which was being sold for $100 for 300 lozenges or up to $300 for a series of facial creams.

On Monday, Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals said its net sales that are primarily comprised of sales of Anatabloc fell 63 percent to $1.84 million in the first half of 2014 as it significantly reduced promotion. The company has operated at a loss for the last 11 years.

Over the last few years, the company has transitioned from the maker of dissolvable tobacco products to a dietary supplement maker. As part of that move, former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. stepped down last December. The wealthy businessman testified late last month in the corruption trial that he showered the McDonnells with more than $165,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for promoting his products.

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