This past week, Nikki Haskell, a socialite who had referred to herself as a “Diet Queen to the Stars,” was fined $60,000 by a U.S. magistrate judge for mislabeling her weight-loss supplement.
The now-defunct company Haskell operated, known as Balanced Health Products Inc, was under investigation because of a pill they sold known as StarCaps. The pills, which were labeled as “a natural blend of papaya and garlic from the higher Andes of Peru,” were spiked with an undisclosed prescription drug.
The drug contained the ingredient bumetanide, which can have dangerous side effects. It is also on the NFL’s list of banned substances, and in 2008, six NFL players were suspended after testing positive for the drug after having used the diet pills. Bumetanide is typically used to treat high blood pressure symptoms, heart failure and renal failure.
Two NFL players subsequently sued Haskell and her company, and Haskell then filed for bankruptcy, fearing that more NFL player lawsuits were on the way.
According to the case’s prosecutor, Robin Morey, the NFL had realized that bumetanide was an ingredient in the pills since 2006, and had subsequently warned its players not to use products from Balanced Health Products. Morey says that the NFL did not inform either the FDA or Haskell’s company.
During her sentencing, Haskell reported being “shocked” when she learned that her pills contained bumetanide. Although she could have received a year-long jail sentence, the judge decided to keep it at just the fine. “This is Ms. Haskell’s first arrest, and I am confident it will be her last,” said judge Sarah Netburn.