Herbalife research connections questioned.

Posted 04 March 2013

Herbalife research connections questioned

The Los Angeles Times has published a startling report about the financial relationships between Herbalife, prominent researchers who been promoting the company, and the University of California-Los Angeles Geffen School of Medicine. [Hiltzik M. Herbalife cozies up with UCLA Los Angeles Times, Feb 22, 2013] The report notes:

  • Since 2002, Herbalife has contributed $1.5 million toward the Mark Hughes Cellular and Molecular Nutrition Lab at the medical school’s Center for Human Nutrition.
  • The lab’s director, David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., is chairman of Herbalife’s Nutrition Advisory Board. In addition to payment for this, Heber has received Herbalfe stock grants in 2005, 2020, 2011, and 2012, and a firm he is affiliated with collects $300,000 per year from Herbalife.
  • Since 2003, Nobel Prize winner Louis Ignarro, Ph.D., has endorsed and promoted Herbalife’s Niteworks product as effective against heart disease. Meanwhile, a firm he is connected with has collected $17.8 million, mostly derived from royalties for the product.

The article concludes:

Heber, Ignarro and their colleagues certainly have some sound medical and nutritional ideas to offer, but they’ve made it impossible to know where the sensible ideas end and the shilling for Herbalife begins. Herbalife maintains that it employs its UCLA cadre “as individuals, not in their capacities as UCLA employees or representatives.” But that’s baloney of an especially non-nutritious variety: Most of them are on the Herbalife payroll because of their UCLA connection. . . . When torrents of cash fall upon people like Heber and Ignarro—especially when the payments promote interests fundamentally in conflict with their responsibilities for thorough, objective research—it’s proper to ask whether the recipients should be viewed primarily as university professors with an income source on the side, or as agents of industry exploiting their academic titles for show.

MLM Watch has a detailed report on Niteworks.

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