By Saul Kent, President of the Life Extension Foundation
The immediate effect of the embargo was to paralyze our overall activities. Since the embargo was on highly popular products representing about 70% of the company's business, it was essentially shut down.
Life Extension Takes Action
As soon as we heard about the embargo, we began to take steps to fight it. I flew to Arizona to help retain a local law firm to work with The Foundation's attorneys in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to obtain a court order to overturn the FDA's actions. What follows is a quote from the April 1991 issue of Life Extension Report, which describes the systematic defense that was mounted against the FDA.
"A thick, well documented lawsuit was prepared to block the FDA-imposed embargo....The research, investigation, and writing that went into this lawsuit involved 7 attorneys and a private investigator in 3 different states working for 12 straight days. It was an unprecedented effort.
"While the attorneys worked on the legal basis to challenge the FDA's gestapo-like action, The Life Extension Foundation gathered medical testimony to prove that these nutrient products were safe and effective. Because of our close ties to the scientific community, we were able to obtain sworn Affidavits from first-rate doctors and researchers about the value of the embargoed products. Hundreds of pages of scientific evidence were attached to the lawsuit to document the safety of the products and the mechanisms by which they improve health and prevent disease."
Victory In Arizona!
Fifteen days after the embargo had been imposed, one of our attorneys strolled into the Arizona Attorney General's Office with a 300-page lawsuit in hand. He told the Attorney General about the illegal actions taken to impose the embargo, and warned that-if action wasn't taken immediately-he would be filing the lawsuit that afternoon.
The Attorney General's reaction was swift and definitive. He ordered the Pharmacy Board to lift the embargo and decreed that any further action by the Board would require adequate notice to the company. In a later discussion, the Pharmacy Board Director acknowledged that his agents had been duped by the FDA, and that they would never again take action against any company without first investigating the matter themselves.
After our victory in Arizona, no civil enforcement action was ever again taken against The Life Extension Foundation, or any of its affiliated companies!
Terrorism Against Kent And Faloon
Instead, the FDA threatened to indict Kent and Faloon on "criminal charges" and to throw them in jail without bail on Oct. 1, 1991!
Kent and Faloon were told-in no uncertain terms-that on Oct. 1st, they would be hit with a massive, multi-count criminal indictment that would be followed by other multi-count indictments, which would, in effect, "destroy their lives forever" and that their only hope of avoiding lifelong imprisonment would be to plead guilty to "crimes against the state" and voluntarily go out of business!
Life Extension Hits Back
In response, we filed a lawsuit against the FDA in U.S. District Court in Florida seeking a declaratory judgment and injunction prohibiting the FDA from selectively prosecuting us in a discriminatory manner. By filing this lawsuit, we served notice that nothing the FDA could do would intimidate us! Our resolve to continue our war against the FDA was discussed in the November 1991 issue of Life Extension Report:
"The Life Extension Foundation will not back down from FDA pressure of any kind because we are motivated by far more than our right to make a living. The Foundation has more ambitious goals and higher principles than the FDA and the medical establishment for which it stands. The Foundation will win its war against the FDA because we are right; because the American people are behind us, and because the FDA is guided by political expediency."
The lawsuits we filed against the FDA involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and thousands of hours of work. They included lawsuits to force the FDA to return our illegally seized property, to grant us our due process rights, to answer our freedom of information requests, to stop treating foods as "drugs", to stop selectively prosecuting us, to stop violating our constitutional rights, to protect the right of Americans to import unapproved drugs, and to force the FDA to approve Tacrine for Alzheimer's disease. As we put it in our newsletter:
"The Foundation's lawsuits against the FDA represent the most ambitious attempt in history to challenge an oppressive government agency in the courts. The lawsuits are unprecedented in their scope, legal analysis, philosophic content, and moral authority. Collectively, they represent a critical challenge to the U.S. legal system, which is being asked to stand up for the principles upon which this nation was founded."
The Arrest And The Indictment
On the morning of Nov. 7, 1991, we were arrested and taken into custody at the federal court building in Fort Lauderdale. We were photographed, finger-printed, and taken to a jail cell to await arraignment. The jail was a fenced-in 8-by-8-foot cubicle that contained two hard benches, a toilet (without a seat), and a small sink. We shared the cell with several men charged with drug-related offenses who were also facing arraignment that day.
At 2:30 pm, we were brought into court (handcuffed to other prisoners). A few minutes later we stood before magistrate Snow. She told us we had been indicted on 28 criminal counts including engaging in a "conspiracy" to sell "unapproved drugs", "prescription drugs", and "misbranded drugs".
Bail was set at $825,000 each. A bail bondsman who we had secured earlier was present to work with our attorneys to execute a bond that would enable us to go free that day.
Magistrate Snow set the following conditions on our release. We would have to report by phone to Pretrial Services every two weeks and pay a visit in person once a month. We were permitted to travel in the U.S., but only if we informed Pretrial Services (at least 24 hours prior to leaving) where we were going and how long we would be away from home. We were not permitted to travel outside the continental United States.
After the arraignment, we were led back to our cell (again in handcuffs chained to other prisoners), where we were kept another two hours until we were finally released from custody at 5 pm.
What We Were Up Against
After we left the building, our attorneys told us that if we were convicted on all 28 counts in the indictment, our maximum penalty would be 84 years in prison and a seven million dollar fine! They also told us the FDA's "investigation" of our activities would continue indefinitely, and that we could expect additional multi-count criminal indictments in the future!
We Refuse To Back Down
The indictment dealt with the fact that-in the mid 1980s-we told Americans how to obtain unapproved drugs from two overseas companies: The Longevity Institute in Panama and The Hauptmann Institute in Austria. We offered this information because of evidence that the drugs could help people live longer, and because the FDA had (and still has) a policy permitting the importation of unapproved drugs for personal use.
After the indictment, we continued to provide Americans with information about therapies from around the world. We weren't about to back down from the very real threats we were now faced with!
Life Extension Fights Back
Since we had now been branded "criminals" by the government (and had to face the prospect of additional criminal indictments), it was clear that we truly had the fight of our lives on our hands!
First we stepped up our political activities by asking our members to protest the FDA's indictment against us to their congressional reps.
Then we placed full-page ads in South Florida newspapers, attacking the FDA for restricting the flow of information about health and longevity, and accusing them of contributing to the deaths of millions of Americans.
Finally, we started filing Motions to attack the legal and constitutional foundations of the indictment.
Motions To Dismiss The Indictment
In the Spring of 1992, we filed a Motion asking for dismissal of the indictment on the grounds that the FDA had illegally obtained their search warrant, and had then illegally seized vast numbers of items not on the search warrant.
We then filed another Motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that we were being prosecuted selectively because the FDA was openly permitting organ-izations such as AIDS Buyers Clubs to engage in acts far more violative of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act than anything we were alleged to have done.
The FDA's Reveals Its Illegal Actions
We were granted hearings before magistrate Snow on both these Motions. At these hearings, we presented powerful evidence of illegal and constitutional actions on the part of the FDA, and revealed the ignorance and shockingly immoral behavior of one FDA employee after another.
FDA enforcement officer Martin Katz admitted he had committed perjury in writing up the Search Warrant, and that he had tried to intimidate a radio talk show producer into keeping us off the air. Katz' partner, Roy Rinc, admitted he had threatened to put our printer out of business if he didn't "cooperate" with the agency, and that he believed he could seize anything at all from us, whether it was on the Search Warrant or not.
Higher FDA officials testified that the FDA actively encourages its agents to ignore Search Warrants during raids, and that the FDA deliberately avoids defining any of its "rules", "regulations", or "policies", so that it can interpret them in any way it wishes, or ignore them completely if it suits their purpose.
Beating Up On The FDA
Although magistrate Snow ultimately ruled against us on both Motions, the two hearings helped us immensely in our struggle against the FDA.
They forced us to begin constructing a powerful defense that could be used at trial. They enabled us to obtain hard evidence of the corruption and immorality of the FDA. And they helped us buy precious time to search for key witnesses, while the FDA's case gradually began to wither away.
The most valuable benefit, however, may have been the opportunity to beat up on the FDA. During both hearings, our attorneys hammered away at one FDA witness after another with difficult, spirit-sapping questions that must have been quite demoralizing for the agency. It was exhilarating for us to able to give the "bully boys" a taste of their own medicine!
During this period, rumors of new FDA raids were heard every week. The FDA constantly threatened to bring waves of new indictments against us that would bankrupt the Foundation and result in us spending the rest of our lives in prison. And our printer was threatened with the seizure of his presses if he printed any more "illegal literature" for us.
The FDA was involved in a vicious campaign of psychological state-sponsored terrorism. The fact that such acts continue to this very day against other innocent Americans is a flagrant violation of basic human rights.
Despite the ongoing threats, we continued to make our products available to our membership, with our attorneys saying it would only aggravate our already hopeless legal position.
In 1992, we introduced the synthetic pineal hormone melatonin in the United States. Our supporters were shocked that we would openly sell a hormone when the FDA was already seeking to destroy us in every way possible. The supplement industry was convinced that the FDA would never allow melatonin to be sold, and we were the only ones who had the courage to sell melatonin in the United States!
The Tide Begins To Turn
One of the first signs that the tide was beginning to turn came in 1992 when we won our lawsuit to have the items seized illegally by the FDA returned to us. While the nutrient products the FDA had been storing at a warehouse since 1987 (at taxpayer expense) were spoiled by then, it was very encouraging to win a victory over the FDA in court.
Even more encouraging was the fact that the judge ordered the FDA to pay our attorneys' fees for unreasonably holding on to our property. This made it more than just a symbolic victory. Our spirits were buoyed considerably by this award, which further demoralized the agency.
The FDA Starts To Crack
An even greater sign that things were beginning to turn our way also occurred in 1992, when the FDA offered us a deal to settle our case. We were told that most of the charges against us would be dropped, and that we might avoid going to prison entirely, if we would just plead guilty to one or two of the charges against us and agree to submit totally to FDA authority. Moreover, we were told that-if we refused the deal-we would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and that we would have to face waves of new criminal indictments.
Although the proposed deal was a major concession that would have tempted most defendants, we didn't hesitate. We replied that we had no intention of giving in to the FDA, that we were totally innocent of any wrongdoing, and that we would continue to provide Americans with lifesaving information, even at the risk of being thrown into prison for life!
This was the first of several "deals" proposed by the FDA, each one followed by a threat that never materialized. Every new deal was better than the previous one, which told us that the FDA was beginning to crack under the pressure we had been submitting them to.
The FDA HOLOCAUST MUSEUM
In 1994, we established the FDA HOLOCAUST MUSEUM where we documented the 70-year reign of terror that the FDA had perpetrated against Americans. We showed the FDA's corrupt practices were causing needless suffering and the deaths of millions of Americans every year. We received international media coverage on the museum showing that even the prospect of lifetime incarceration couldn't stop us from telling the truth about the FDA!
More FDA Threats
In 1995, the FDA made even more serious threats against us. They said they had new evidence that would enable them to incarcerate us for life, and that they were on the verge of seizing every penny we had!
It is hard to describe the psychological effect of this unrelenting government pressure. Historically, the FDA has destroyed its opponents through this type of illegal intimidation, thereby maintaining a dictatorial grip on the practice of medicine in the United States.
We knew that capitulation was the easy way out, but that it would mean an end to our lifelong goal of extending the human lifespan. We vowed to continue the battle no matter what. Contingency plans were made to continue publishing our newsletters from prison if necessary.
The Realities Of Going To Trial
We were confident we could win our case in court, but dreaded the time and expense of going to trial. By then, The Foundation was rapidly growing, we were again funding life extension research, and it was hard to get into the mindset of preparing for a trial that we knew was an absolute farce.
The Trial Approaches
In mid 1995, the FDA was pushing to bring the case to trial. We had a trial date that might not be possible to postpone, and the FDA had an 88-year history of never giving up on any enforcement action, especially a criminal indictment against a political opponent!
We were then offered a deal to guarantee that we would not go to prison, and that it might even be possible for us to remain in business in some limited capacity. But, by then, we had come to the conclusion that any admission of guilt would irreparably compromise our principles, which would significantly hamper our quest for an extended human lifespan.
So we dug our in our heels and went after the FDA again by having our attorneys file a battery of new legal motions, by escalating our political attacks on the agency, and by spending more and more of our time preparing for a trial that would require our total concentration for months as well a great deal of our money.