Enzyte

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Overview

Enzyte is an herbal nutritional supplement originally manufactured by Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals of Cincinnati, Ohio. The manufacturer has claimed Enzyte promotes "natural male enhancement", which is suggestive of a euphemism for penile enlargement. However, its effectiveness has been called into doubt and the claims of the manufacturer have been under scrutiny from various state and federal organizations.

By 2009, marketing was oriented to both erectile dysfunction, and attracting more naive purchasers seeking permanent enlargement of the penis.

Because of their claims and business practices, the company's founder and CEO, Steve Warshak, and his mother, Harriett Warshak, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, and in September 2008 were sentenced to prison and ordered to forfeit $500 million in assets.[1]

The conviction threw the company into bankruptcy. In December 2008 the assets were acquired from bankruptcy court for $2.75 million by Pristine Bay, affiliated with Cincinnati developer Chuck Kubicki who said he wanted to keep the company's 200 employees in one of his property buildings in suburban Cincinnati at Forest Park, Ohio. Pristine Bay LLC has the same mailing address as Kubicki's Cincinnati United Contractors. Pristine Bay’s statutory agent, Chance Truemper, is a property-development coordinator for CUC. Kubiciki said he would change the company name but would keep the brand.[2]

Enzyte is widely advertised on US television as "the once daily tablet for natural male enhancement". The commercials feature a character known as "Smilin' Bob" (played by actor John Larson[3]), who always wears a smile that is implied to be caused by the enhancing effects of Enzyte; these advertisements feature double entendres. Some commercials feature an equally smiling "Mrs. Bob".

The purported benefits of this compound are dubious, unproven and untested.

Ingredients

Despite being a compound of herbs, minerals, and vitamins, Enzyte formerly promoted itself under a seemingly scientific name of Suffragium asotas. While Enzyte's manufacturer claims this phrase translates as "better sex," this is incorrect; suffragium in Latin means vote, and asotas is not a Latin word at all. Harvard teaching fellow Rhett Martin says that the phrase might be an error for suffragor asotis, meaning "refuge for the dissipated."[4]

Enzyte is said to contain:

Most of the above ingredients are commonly available as over the counter herbal or dietary supplements, and most have anecdotal reports, but marginal or unproven scientific evidence, of efficacy on various systems in the human body. Several of the herbal ingredients are included in only very low quantities.

One notable ingredient, Yohimbe, was included in the original formulation of Enzyte, produced until at least 2004, however as Yohimbe's legal status in Canada is unclear, Enzyte produced after 2004 no longer contains Yohimbe extract.

Additionally, zinc is an ingredient in Enzyte. Some men who have low zinc levels in their body have had success using zinc supplements to treat erection problems. [5] Overdosage of zinc is a hazard to health. Zinc supplements are available without prescription at significantly lower prices than Enzyte.

Effectiveness

Currently, the effectiveness of Enzyte is unproven. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged the Federal Trade Commission (which has power under federal law to regulate advertising) to disallow further television advertising for Enzyte, because of a lack of proper clinical trials. They have settled with the Attorneys General of various states and have altered their advertising in a more truthful fashion. Substantiation for the brand is on file for each claim. The company now offers a 60 day return policy on unopened products.

Enzyte originally advertised that use of the Enzyte product would promote permanent physical penile growth, or the company would return purchasers double their cost. Those who attempted to collect this refund claim they either received a partial refund or were duped into signing away the right to a refund. Enzyte advertising was changed to state that the product is intended to create a firmer erection by temporarily increasing blood flow to the penis. The advertising change was made after lawsuits against the company and its rebate policies began to surface. No evidence exists that proves Enzyte to be effective in any of its claims. The product advertising states in small print that it "is not intended or promoted to diagnose, or treat any disease" and since ED (Erectile dysfunction) is a recognized disease, the advertising is considered legal.

A civil lawsuit alleged Enzyte does not work as advertised.[1] Despite manufacturer claims that Enzyte will increase penis size, girth, firmness, and improve sexual performance, there exists no scientific evidence that Enzyte is capable of these claims. In fact, Enzyte has never been scientifically tested by the FDA, or other independent third party. [2] Accordingly, Enzyte is required by current US law to be marketed as an herbal supplement, and may not legally be called a drug. In keeping with FTC rulings, Enzyte is not allowed to claim these benefits in its advertising. However, as of May 2009, TV commercials for the product still use the phrase "natural male enhancement."

Federal indictment and conviction

On September 21, 2006, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, its owner and president, Steven Warshak, and five other individuals were indicted by the United States, Southern District of Ohio, U.S. Attorney Greg Lockhart, on charges of conspiracy], money laundering, and mail, wire and bank fraud. The indictment alleged that the company defrauded consumers and banks of US$ 100 million.[6] The United States Food and Drug Administration, Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Inspection Service and other agencies participated in the investigation.[7] The federal fraud trial began on January 8, 2008.[8]

In testimony during the trial, a former executive with Berkeley testified that the enhancements that the company claimed were given by use of Enzyte were fabricated, and the company defrauded customers by continuing to charge them for additional shipments of the supplement. He further testified that company employees were instructed to make it as difficult as possible for unhappy customers to receive refunds.[9]

On February 22, 2008, Steven Warshak was found guilty of 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. On August 27, 2008 he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $93,000 in fines. His company, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, along with other defendants, was ordered to forfeit $500 million. His 75-year-old mother, Harriet Warshak, was sentenced to two years in prison.[10][11][12]

See also

References

  1. McKee, Tom (2008-02-25). "Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals Founder Found Guilty of Crimes". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  2. http://boston.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2008/12/08/daily55.html Kubicki company to buy Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals - Business Courier of Cincinnati - December 10, 2008]
  3. "Five Commercials That Really Bug Me". Green Bay Press-Gazette. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  4. Rubin, Rita (2002-04-17). "Why is this man smiling? It's not Viagra". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  5. Rhodes, Monica (2006). "Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction)". NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved 2009-05-21.
  6. "'Natural Male Enhancement' Company Owner Indicted on Fraud, Other Charges". FOXNews.com. Associated Press. 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  7. "Enzyte executive indicted for fraud". MSNBC. 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  8. "BERKELEY EXECUTIVES CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY AND FRAUD IN CONNECTION WITH SALES OF DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  9. "Ads for male enhancement pill bogus, former exec says". Columbus Dispatch. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  10. New York Times "Ohio company owner gets 25 years in fraud case" .http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Enzyte-Maker-Sentencing.html
  11. Cincinnati Enquirer "'Smiling Bob' founder gets 25 years" http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080827/BIZ/308270019&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL
  12. Kinney, Terry (2008-08-27). "Ohio company owner gets 25 years in fraud case". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-09-05.

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