Three Plead Guilty in Injectable Tanning Case

     NASHVILLE (CN) – The marketer of an injectable tanning product pleaded guilty to the unlawful sale of the product, eight years after the Food and Drug Administration warned him to stop such sales.
     Edward Manookian, 63, ran Melanacorp Inc., which sold injectable tanning drug Melanotan II and also claimed that it could reduce the risk of skin cancer, according to the Justice Department.
     In 2007, the FDA told Manookian that he could sell the product without first submitting to the agency’s rigorous approval process. But prosecutors say Manookian continued to sell the products both in the U.S. and internationally, for another two years.
     In a statement, U.S. Attorney David Rivera said in doing so, Manookian and Melanacorp. tried to circumvent safeguards designed to protect consumers.
     “The consuming public relies heavily on the FDA’s authority to require products to be properly manufactured, labeled and rendered safe for use,” Rivera said. “The defendants in this case blatantly disregarded the FDA’s orders and direction and placed their desire for ill-gotten profits above the safety of the public.”
     Prosecutors said among other deceptive practices Manookian engaged in was his claiming that his prodcut was produced in the U.S. when it fact it was imported from China.
     He faces up to five years in prison and $500,000 in fines for one count of conspiring to defraud the FDA. and one count of conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States. His sentencing is scheduled for June 26.
     Two others – Brian Manookian and Karen Manookian – also pleaded guilty in the case for distributing MII in interstate commerce. Each faces a year in prison and they’ll be sentenced June 19.

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