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January 14, 2002
WASHINGTON--Last year, a federal juryreached a deadlock over 19 counts of conspiracy, selling an unauthorized drugand committing wire fraud in a trial accusing a businessman of selling AIDS andcancer patients an expensive aloe vera solution marketed as a cure. That casehas come to a conclusion: Allen J. Hoffman, the man behind the remedy, hasbeen sentenced to 46 months in prison and $222,506 in fines.
According to a Dec. 5 Talk Paper issued by the Food andDrug Administration (FDA), Hoffman pleaded guilty to two felony counts ofintroduction of an unapproved new drug into interstate commerce with the intentto defraud the public. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it isillegal to market a drug that has not been approved by the FDA to treat specificconditions.
This intravenous aloe vera treatment was administered by some physicians whosold it for upwards of $18,000 during a two-week period; in the United States,it is illegal to sell aloe vera for intravenous use. When he was tried lastyear, Hoffman claimed he did not intend the intravenous treatment to be used byU.S. citizens.
According to FDA, more than 3,000 people purchased products from Hoffman, whoalso falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree. Hoffman's companies that soldthis product--T-Up Inc. in Baltimore, Md., and Hanover, Pa.-based AstecBiologics Inc.--are both out of business, according to a person at Astec. Thecompanies had no comment on this matter.
Marc Ullman, an attorney in the natural products industry, said that althoughhe does not know all of the details in the case, this court decision serves as areminder to those who may follow in Hoffmans footsteps. Anyone who sellsany dietary supplement or purported dietary supplement as a cure for cancer orAIDS risks prosecution, such as in this instance, he commented. FDA wassquarely within the letter of the law [when it went after this company]. Anyonewho is thinking about selling a product like this risks similar treatment.
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