CEO of Fitness Website Pleads Guilty to Labeling “Drugs” as “Nutritional Supplements”

The founder and chief executive officer of a popular fitness website, Bodybuilding.com, has pleaded guilty in a federal court in Idaho to five misdemeanor counts arising from products sold through the website that the government alleged were “misbranded drugs.” The products allegedly contained various forms of steroids classified as “drugs” under federal law. Prosecutors sought to hold him liable for allegedly misleading the public about the products’ components.

Ryan DeLuca served as the CEO of Bodybuilder.com between 2007 and 2009. During that time, according to federal prosecutors, the company sold at least five products labeled and marketed as “dietary supplements” that the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act classified as “drugs.” The products, which had names like “I Force Methadrol” and “Rage RV5,” allegedly contained synthetic anabolic steroids or synthetic steroid “clones.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating the company as early as 2002. It executed a search warrant in September 2009 on the company’s headquarters in Idaho. In November 2009, the company issued a voluntary recall of sixty-five “dietary supplement” products the FDA said should be classified as steroid-containing drugs.

Federal prosecutors charged DeLuca with at least five misdemeanor counts of “introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.” They alleged that Bodybuilding.com had gross receipts of nearly $1.8 million from the sale of mislabeled product between January and July of 2009. They further alleged that the company’s FDA compliance officer told DeLuca and others in 2009 that certain products violated FDA labeling regulations. Each misdemeanor charge could result in a one-year prison sentence.

DeLuca pleaded guilty to the five counts on April 9, 2012 in a federal court in Boise. He agreed to pay a fine of $500,000, and the government recommended that he receive probation, but no jail time.

Anabolic steroids have common medical uses in patients with conditions causing bone or muscle loss. They are also frequently used by athletes and bodybuilders to increase muscle mass or improve performance, although such uses are both illegal and banned by athletic authorities. The drug works by mimicking the hormones testosterone and dihydrotesterone, causing additional buildup of cells in muscles and other tissues.

While some steroids can have positive health benefits when used under the supervision of a doctor, they can have serious adverse health effects if used for long periods of time. According the the FDA, long-term steroid use can cause acute liver damage and can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. It can also cause infertility and other damage in male users. The risks to consumers who might not know they are taking steroids can be great, including the risk of a harmful drug interaction or other serious medication error. Maryland law not only prohibits the use, possession, or distribution of steroids, it also requires gyms and other health facilities to post notices advising patrons of the drug’s illegality.

The Maryland medication error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can assist you if you have been injured by drugs prescribed or administered incorrectly. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 to see if you may recover damages.

More Blog Posts:

Pharmacy Errors and Injuries Can Result From Similar-Sounding Drug Names, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, April 19, 2012
Pharmaceutical Company Fined $1.1 Billion Over Deceptive Drug Marketing, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, April 12, 2012
Voluntary Recall Announced for Certain Oral Contraceptives Due to Packaging Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, March 15, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Alternate-bicep-curl-2’ By Everkinetic [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Contact Information