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Michael Ellis, the former head of Metabolife, is at Taft Federal Prison in California until mid-February. When he gets out, he will give interviews about his new self-published book, "The Metabolife Story," which is, he says, about "The Rape of Cinderella." He was sentenced to six months last June, despite efforts of his attorney, Charles La Bella, to keep him out. Ellis and his company had sent a letter to the Food & Drug Administration, claiming Metabolife's product had not generated health complaints from consumers. That was not true. Ellis pleaded guilty. In 1988, Ellis, a former cop, had been arrested for making methamphetamine. Ellis's co-defendant got five and a half years in prison, but Ellis cooperated with authorities and only got probation. Along with a third person, they founded Metabolife, which peddled an ephedra-based product through multi-level marketing. It advertised heavily; Ellis became an establishment darling despite his past. In November of 2003, an Internal Revenue Service affidavit was unsealed. It charged that Ellis and his two company co-founders had skimmed money out of the company and stashed it in offshore financial institutions. One of the three, Michael Bradley, was sentenced to prison for tax evasion in 2006. The government banned ephedra. Metabolife went bankrupt in 2005. Ellis claims in his book that the Metabolife product "had cut into the profits of the nation's most powerful pharmaceutical companies," and therefore the FDA intervened in the companies' behalf. The book claims that ephedra is "safe and effective."

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Comments

fitnessnut March 6, 2009 @ 1:50 p.m.

Well I guess no answer is the norm. Look I've read the blogs on Metabolife and not one bit of investigating was done to see if the story holds water. It's so sad that no one looks at the source, people follow the real money. Who was Metabolife taking money from? BIG PHARMA... I have to say one thing, I love how Ellis' book explains how a so called journalist from the Union Tribune, I think it's name is Penny Crabtree was the one writing all this bad stuff about Ellis and Metabolife. All the while her husband was a high up at a pharma company, that was trying to come out with a weight-loss product to try to compete with Metabolife. Ha ha ha!! What do you think about that? I have to say journalist's are like any other group of people 80% lazy morons, 15% think they know what there doing and the other 5% that do there job. So the real question is, where do you fall into this Don?

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removed Jan. 28, 2009 @ 7:47 p.m.

mr bauder with the exception of the first 2 sentences, this appears to be a retread of blog from june of last year. am I correct?

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 28, 2009 @ 9:32 p.m.

Ellis claims in his book that the Metabolife product "had cut into the profits of the nation's most powerful pharmaceutical companies," and therefore the FDA intervened in the companies' behalf.

Ephedrine had numerous verified and documented deaths related to it's use, the notion that it was pulled for anything other than for safety is preposterous.

Stating otherwise is really just the ramblings of a convicted felon trying to cover up his miscondcut.

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Don Bauder Jan. 28, 2009 @ 9:44 p.m.

Response to post #1: I used that blog for background, but there is a lot more in this post than just that background. And I have written reams of copy on Metabolife, Ellis et al -- both columns and blog items. I wrote some of the first pieces about Metabolife back when I was on the Union-Tribune. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 28, 2009 @ 9:46 p.m.

Response to post #2: It will be interesting to read his book. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering Jan. 29, 2009 @ 8:44 a.m.

Well lets hope you get a free copy of his book. Paying money for it makes no sense whatsoever. Our culture should not support people of Mr. Ellis' ilk in any way.

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JustWondering Jan. 29, 2009 @ 8:48 a.m.

I agree with Mr. Vegas when he wrote, "Ephedrine had (has) numerous verified and documented deaths related to it's use, the notion that it was pulled for anything other than for safety is preposterous."

It's hard for me to believe I agreed with something Mr. Vegas wrote on a blog.

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Don Bauder Jan. 29, 2009 @ 9:17 a.m.

Response to post #5: We already have copies. I am 100 percent certain we didn't pay for them. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 29, 2009 @ 9:19 a.m.

Response to post #6: In fact, I know someone personally who believes his wife died as a result of her taking the Metabolife ephedra product. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering Jan. 29, 2009 @ 10:20 a.m.

Regrettably I too personally knew someone who passed away from complications tied to use of ephedra products from a now defunct San Diego company.

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Don Bauder Jan. 29, 2009 @ 2:46 p.m.

Response to post #10: Yes, there were several deaths reported. Best, Don Bauder

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beaudoggy22 Feb. 4, 2009 @ 10:03 a.m.

Don, I used to read your business columns all the time. You were a fine journalist. How did you fall so far. A good journalist would take the time to interview Mr Ellis and truly look into what he has to say, not just rehash the same biased opinions you have been "peddling" for years.

With regard to the death claims. There is a new study that was released last summer that clearly states that there is no connection between an ephedrine/caffeine product and adverse cardiovascular outcomes. In other words Metabolife was not responsible for these deaths any more than the adverse affect I get from reading your blog.

I hope in the future you actually take the time to explore this ongoing story with the fair and unbiased professionalism that should be expected from our media.

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2009 @ 3:57 p.m.

Response to post #11: My columns or blog entries about multi-level marketing almost always elicit responses such as yours. Best, Don Bauder

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 4, 2009 @ 6:08 p.m.

With regard to the death claims. There is a new study that was released last summer that clearly states that there is no connection between an ephedrine/caffeine product and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

In other words Metabolife was not responsible for these deaths any more than the adverse affect I get from reading your blog.

By beaudoggy22

================================================

beaudoggy22 = Ellis!

Ephedrine has been linked to scores of deaths and that is a proven fact. There is NO legitimate study that states otherwise.

Here you go Ellis, a legitimate study from a legitimate peer review journal- The New England Journal of Medicine;

Adverse Cardiovascular and Central Nervous System Events Associated with Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedra Alkaloids

Christine A. Haller, M.D., and Neal L. Benowitz, M.D.

Results Thirty-one percent of cases were considered to be definitely or probably related to the use of supplements containing ephedra alkaloids, and 31 percent were deemed to be possibly related. Among the adverse events that were deemed definitely, probably, or possibly related to the use of supplements containing ephedra alkaloids, 47 percent involved cardiovascular symptoms and 18 percent involved the central nervous system. Hypertension was the single most frequent adverse effect (17 reports), followed by palpitations, tachycardia, or both (13); stroke (10); and seizures (7).

Ten events resulted in death, and 13 events produced permanent disability, representing 26 percent of the definite, probable, and possible cases. <<<<

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/343/25/1833

Man, why do all the scam artists you write about and expose come on here under an alias and still try to perpetuate their scams which have been thoroughly discredited by the free world?????

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 4, 2009 @ 7:19 p.m.

try this one:

By jimmysjohnson

Yeah, and if you took the time to actually read and analyze the study you linked you would see it is jusy one study, not fully published on the website- only the abstract which prevents fully analyzing the study, and it is not cited in any other studies.

Now take a look at the NEJM study, including the entire study whihc is on the website and then look at the number of times it has been referenced (hundreds).

Now which one carries more weight??? No comparison.

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2009 @ 8:43 p.m.

Response to post #13: NEJM is highly respectable. My own cardiologist tells me not to drink coffee or tea -- anything with the least bit of caffeine. If I asked him about ephedra, I think he would pass out. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2009 @ 8:47 p.m.

Response to post #14: John Hopkins is world-renowned, of course, and the precis suggests that the conclusion supports your position. But then other studies come up with the opposite. It's so often that way in medicine: one study says one thing, another says the opposite. Usually under such circumstances, I conclude it's best to stay away -- that's the conservative thing to do. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2009 @ 8:49 p.m.

Response to post #15: And there are other studies, too, going further back. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 4, 2009 @ 10:03 p.m.

Funny how were so quick to think the FDA is right. Last I checked they were in a lot of hot water for lying about studies pertaining to medical devices. This was just a few weeks ago, MAN. Here's one if epherda is so dangerous why dose the FDA let Vasapro sell the exact same formula as Metabolife 356 and say it's the same formula. FUNNY http://www.buyvasoproephedrine.com/metabodrene356.html

Come on people open your eyes if you just believe what you here from the media you need help. I for one loved Metabolife and would like to here what the founder has to say. Seems to me he has never got a chance to tell his side. All I heard was the FDA's PR. And Don maybe find something else to say then he was a drug dealer that has no importance, if the DEA saw no connection between Ellis past and Metabolife why do you?

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 12:15 p.m.

Response to post #19: I don't see how the FDA is letting a company sell something that is the same as Metabolife. The FDA banned ephedra. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 5, 2009 @ 1:09 p.m.

Really, did you go to the link? Cause it looks like they copied Metabolife, plus there selling the same formula, seems kinda funny to me. I was told Metabolife was killing people. If it was killing people why is it, that the FDA allows it to still be sold by this other company (vasarpo)? Looks like someone real powerful wanted the market back, that Metabolife took. By the way, thank you for recommending the book, It's a great read. Makes you think...

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Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:19 p.m.

Response to post #21: The FDA banned ephedra. It is unlikely that the product you mentioned is a copy of Metabolife. If so, some bureaucrat at the FDA will have his/her neck in a noose. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 5, 2009 @ 5:03 p.m.

Don, I urge you and anyone to look at this link it's CRAZY!! Please tell me how this is so... I feel I've been lied to just take a look. Thank you. http://www.buyvasoproephedrine.com/metab...

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fitnessnut Feb. 6, 2009 @ 9:35 p.m.

Don, Have you had a chance to look over the link? I also took it upon myself to look up this whole Metabolife subject, I went to www.themjellisgroup.com they have a lot of info there that blew my mind. Did you know that Eliis never was convicted or did he commit a tax fraud. It's in black and white. I don't understand? More importantly the link on vasapro. If Epherda is unsafe someone should take a serious look into this. Please let me know your thoughts.. Thank you. Here is that link again
http://www.buyvasoproephedrine.com/metab......

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Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2009 @ 11:22 p.m.

Response to posts #23 and 24: The vasophedrine site is down. Ellis's site is promoting his book. Yes, I looked at it. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 7, 2009 @ 8:24 a.m.

Don, For some reason your website is blocking the access to the vasapro site. It is still up in full force. Here it is again http://www.buyvasoproephedrine.com/metabodrene356.html

You must look at this, I'm outraged at the fact that this company is selling a product, that I was told killed people. I'm not sure if I buy that anymore.. Don please look into this, I know you can get an honest answer on why the FDA is allowing this to happen. All I did was do a little research and looks like there is something funny going on. I hope you take the time to look at this. Thank you..

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MoRoN_BoY Feb. 7, 2009 @ 7:52 p.m.

Shiver-Me-Timbers,

I'm chiming in from the Midwest. Been living on this side of the U.S. for 30 yrs and I'm tired of the cold weather. Narrowed my choices to Vegas, Phoenix, and yours truly San Diego. I do research before I make major moves. As Grand-Dad always said "Life is similar to a game of chess, weigh it out Alligator!". So I'm here on the SDR, a well respected read that's been around since the 70's. While looking around on this site I see an article about Metabolife the pioneer in the Ephedra boom. I remember the college days when my friends and I would take these natural supplements. After the FDA & the major network media channels ripped through Metabolife, I had an instant feeling of sadness for people that had claimed to been affected by the product and I was definitely fear-stricken (scared straight) along with most of my friends immediately ceased taking Ephedra based products. Now I see that Vasapro has the exact same ingredients. After all that drama about Metabolife and another company is allowed to sell the product. There is a definite stink in my nostrils about this. Who owns this Vasapro? I just happen to be in the medical sector and this is a sticky issue. I will be sure to pass this info on to others. Thanks SDR. Yes We Can.....

How is this legal? http://www.buyvasoproephedrine.com/metabodrene356.html

I hope the owner of metabolife isn't locked up because of his product.

Grand-Dad also said " Knowledge Is Power". Thanks for the advice Grand-Dad.

Guess I gotta thank you too fittnessnut. Thanks....

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2009 @ 8:57 p.m.

Response to post #26: Got it this time. Yes, something odd is going on. The company brags that it has the same formula as Metabolife used. You would think it would get an inquiry from the FDA. Several things could be going on: that formula is not the same as Metabolife's -- it's just advertised that way. Or the FDA, a typical bureaucracy, hasn't awakened yet. There could be other explanations. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 7, 2009 @ 9:01 p.m.

Response to post #27: But does Vasapro really have the same formula? Or is this slick advertising? Is Vasapro put out by people who were involved with Metabolife? If so, and if the formula is the same, why hasn't the FDA jumped this? Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 9, 2009 @ 7:59 a.m.

Vasapro dose have the same formula as Metabolife! Don, it looks like after reading The Metabolife Story and looking up info on Ellis's site and everywhere else on the internet, Ellis and Metabolife were set up! I for one stopped taking all epherda products years back when I was told it killed people. Now I'm finding out something else.. Vasapro looks to clearly be a pharmaceutical company, in fact it says so on the top of their page.. Now why can I, or my 14 year old son order this product right now with no prescription? Oh let's not forget that it was pulled off the market for killing people.. Don, I want to know what the hell is going on.. Sorry for speaking so strong but the fact that my kids can buy this is NOT GOOD!!! Don, I'm asking you to do a big favor to the American public and find out really find out what is going on. In fact I'm writing my Senator on this as well. But I know the media can dig till they get something. This is for all Americans Health and Safety. Thank you

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fitnessnut Feb. 9, 2009 @ 8:05 a.m.

Don, The more I found out about the FDA the worst it get's.. Did you know a lot of people who work high up in the FDA end up having cushy jobs waiting for the with pharmaceutical companies.. Funny it seems the FDA is in bed with big pharmaceutical companies. I think that's common sense.

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Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2009 @ 9:16 a.m.

Response to post #30: Definitely, somebody should take a look at this. I have put it on my list. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2009 @ 9:20 a.m.

Response to post #31: This is true with other regulatory agencies, particularly the Securities and Exchange Commission. I have written a lot about the revolving door phenomenon. A lawyer considers a job with a regulatory body as just a stepping stone to a cushy job with a big law firm or a big company. But while they are in government, these lawyers often pull mischief to get crooks off the hook to ease the lawyers' way into high-paying private sector jobs. It stinks. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 9, 2009 @ 3:55 p.m.

Don I'm glad your looking into Vasapro, please write an article on what their doing, to expose it and put and end to it.. Now what is the next step with the revolving door phenomenon? And I'm not talking about lawyers. It needs to stop or better yet you need to write an article on the that as well. It seems that the real powerful people stay safe and take what they want. Lets put an end to it....

Don, I have a question. Why is it that all the news clippings I find on Metabolife are so negative? It's kinda funny most of it was mostly fiction that made for good media. After reading the Metabolife story it brought a lot of strong points home for me. I've been telling everyone to read it. All my co-workers love it as well. Thank you.

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Don Bauder Feb. 10, 2009 @ 8:04 a.m.

Response to post #34: Media coverage of Metabolife was negative because the facts uncovered by investigators, including those in the media, painted a dubious picture. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 10, 2009 @ 1:01 p.m.

Don It seems that most of it was not true. If Ellis never committed a tax fraud why did no one ever report it? The media sure tore him open, looks like the media just wanted to rip someone apart. And what a perfect person they had in Ellis. Don I always say one thing it's not the mistakes a man makes in his life, it's the way he faces them. Look people make mistakes Ellis clearly made one early in his life, but he faced it like a man. And after reading his book if I was in his spot I would have done the same thing Ellis did. What a stand up thing to do for a friend. I hope you and the rest of the media really listen to Ellis and what he is saying cause it's only right to hear both sides of a story. Don did you read The Metabolife story? After you read it tell me if you don't respect what he is saying... Thanks

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Don Bauder Feb. 10, 2009 @ 2:19 p.m.

Response to post #36: I haven't had a chance to read the Metabolife book yet. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut Feb. 10, 2009 @ 10:25 p.m.

Don You have to read the book! I got the book at www.themjellisgroup.com there is a lot of info on this site as well. It would make a great movie!

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Don Bauder Feb. 12, 2009 @ 9:25 a.m.

Response to post #38: I'll try to get to the book. Best, Don Bauder

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nialcaso Feb. 14, 2009 @ 10:10 p.m.

Hi I just finished reading this book and it made me want to do a lot more research. Upon typing in the title of the book, this was one of the pages I was directed to. I was reading the posts on here and would like to point out that you say you have copies for which you didn't have to pay, and then just this last post says you'll try to get to the copies... I urge you to get to books that you got and read it as soon as you can, it should give you a different perspective on things. It certainly cleared a lot up for me. Funny how things get twisted around so easily.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2009 @ 8:10 a.m.

Response to post #40: The Reader has tried to reach Ellis for an interview about the book and related topics. Best, Don Bauder

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fitnessnut March 3, 2009 @ 6:42 a.m.

Don, Have you read Ellis book yet? Or looked into this vasapro company who is selling a product that is killing people? I was expecting that this would bother you and you would write about it. Why is it that no one cares about vavapro what a screwed up system we have. It must be a lie, epherda being dangerous. I think we all know the FDA only cares about the people who put money in there pockets. BIG PHARMA!! I feel so sick about the lies and NO ONE gives a sh_t!

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