(Fixes spelling of word "stimulants" in 4th paragraph)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON Dec 7 GNC Holdings Inc, the
largest global dietary supplement retailer, has agreed to pay
$2.25 million and reform its practices in a pact to avoid
federal prosecution over its alleged sale of illegal dietary
supplements, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
The non-prosecution agreement stems from allegations that
GNC in 2013 sold in its stores nationwide a misbranded
supplement called OxyElite Pro Advanced Formula, which is made
by Dallas-based USP Labs.
USP Labs was indicted in November 2015 in a U.S. federal
court in Dallas and is awaiting trial, the DOJ said. It stands
accused of engaging in a conspiracy to import ingredients from
China using false certificates of analysis and false labeling.
Later, the company allegedly told retailers the supplements
contained natural plant extracts, when they actually contained
synthetic stimulatants made in China, the DOJ said.
As part of the deal with the DOJ, GNC has vowed to suspend
the sale of products if the Food and Drug Administration issues
a public warning about them.
It is also required to create lists of acceptable and
unacceptable ingredients that can be used in supplements and
conduct more due diligence on its vendors. Finally, it is
required to establish an industry-wide quality seal program.
"Unlawful dietary supplements are an important enforcement
priority for the department," said Principal Deputy Assistant
Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer in a statement.
"Today's resolution is a significant step forward in
reforming an industry rife with alarming practices," he added.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch Editing by W Simon)