News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Provided Human Growth Hormone From China and India as Weight Loss Drug

May 9, 2011

RICHARD MARSCHALL, 59, a naturopathic physician from Port Angles, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Causing the Introduction of Misbranded Drugs. The charge results from MARSCHALL’s distribution of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) as a weight loss drug. The substance is approved by the FDA to treat infertility, but is not approved for weight loss. MARSCHALL faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle on August 8, 2011.

According to the plea agreement signed today, in February 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating MARSCHALL after seizing a package sent to his practice. The package contained numerous boxes of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). The drug was manufactured in China and distributed by a company in India. MARSCHALL tried to get the package released by saying he was an endocrinologist using the drugs to treat infertile patients. Since MARSCHALL was not a licensed endocrinologist the package was not released. The FDA made another seizure in June 2009, and further investigation revealed MARSCHALL received shipments in July 2009, and January 2010. In March 2010, FDA agents searched MARSCHALL’s clinic. During an interview MARSCHALL told them he was prescribing the HCG for weight loss, and said he ordered it from a Canadian website. MARSCHALL admitted he knew the drug came from India, and said he had lied to the FDA when he claimed to be an endocrinologist using the drug to treat infertility. The FDA interviewed former patients who said they were prescribed the drug for weight-loss. Many said they had never actually met with MARSCHALL, but that he prescribed it after speaking with them on the phone.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a probationary sentence for MARSCHALL, but Judge Settle is free to impose any sentence up to the maximum allowed by law.

The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Brown.


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