NPR, All Things Considered, November 22, 2002:
Despite its possibly deadly side effects, the diet aid [Metabolife 356] has racked up $1 billion in sales and remains a popular supplement for those looking for an energy boost or trying to lose weight.
November 5, 2007: http://justice.gov/usao/cas/press/cas71105-Metabolife.pdf:
In connection with the guilty plea, Ellis’ attorney told the Court that in February 1999, Ellis and his
corporation – through a retained law firm – sent a letter to the FDA stating that Metabolife had a “claims free
history.” Ellis was aware at the time, however, that this statement was false. He also knew that the FDA
would likely rely on Metabolife’s statements regarding its consumer complaint history in the FDA’s
proceedings concerning regulation of ephedra-based supplements.
In 2002, Metabolife turned over to the FDA and then to the Department of Justice reports of more
than 10,000 ephedra-related adverse events that the company had previously withheld.
From Wikipedia's page on ephedra, based on Los Angeles Times article, 2003:
Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, authors of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, questioned the scientific basis for the FDA's proposed labeling changes and suggested that the number of problems reported were insufficient to warrant regulatory action. At the time, Hatch's son was working for a firm hired to lobby Congress and the FDA on behalf of ephedra manufacturers.
Today, the Metabolife home page has the following slogan on it: "Staying between you and your fat pants."
If I were dictator I know what punishment I would give this guy.