When Michael J. Ellis saw how cancer was ravaging his father's body, he was desperate to find something—anything—that would help ease the dying man's suffering. It just so happened that Ellis discovered such a method in herbal remedies—but in a fateful twist, his research inadvertently uncovered something else entirely, a secret that would also impact American society: a weight loss product that actually worked!
Five years later, in 1998, Ellis stood at the head of Metabolife International, Inc., one of the most successful and notorious herbal supplement companies in the world. Millions of Americans were taking its revolutionary product, Metabolife 356, to lose weight. By all accounts, it was the perfect Cinderella story—but this fairy tale would not have a happy ending.
Metabolife 356, with its remarkable success and happy customers, had cut into the profits of the nation's most powerful pharmaceutical companies. In short order, the pharma industry's watchdog, the FDA, intervened, turning its sights on Metabolife and the product's active ingredient, ephedrine. For all Americans, the FDA's actions have had shattering consequences.
This is the true story of one of the most audacious thefts in corporate history; a story about how a massive clerical error led to one of the largest IRS raids in history; a story about how no man, however guiltless, is immune to the awful power of the media.
Above all, this is the story of one federal agency's successful attempt to steal a safe and effective product from the American public through little more than propaganda and misinformation.