Chinese human growth hormone maker agrees to pay $7.5m
PROVIDENCE — A Chinese company believed responsible for producing most of the illegal human growth hormone outside the United States has agreed to plead guilty, along with its chief executive, to federal charges of selling the drug and both have agreed to pay $7.5 million, court documents show.
Lei Jin and his company, Genescience Pharmaceutical Co., were scheduled to enter a plea change and be sentenced in US District Court in Providence. The company agreed to plead to a felony and Jin to a misdemeanor.
Genescience was charged in 2007 in a crackdown on illegal sports doping, Operation Raw Deal, in which more than 120 people were arrested and 11.4 million drug doses were seized.
The company — based in Changchun, China — was accused of selling and shipping the drug, generally used to build muscle mass, under the name Jintropin without approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA allows the prescribed use of human growth hormone for certain medical conditions, but not for bodybuilding or anti-aging purposes.
The investigation crippled the company, which was responsible for 90 percent of the human growth hormone illegally produced outside the United States, said FDA Special Agent Jason Simonian, who spearheaded the investigation from Rhode Island. New England investigators used wire transfers and e-mails to track shipments, Simonian said.
As part of the plea agreement, the company and Jin will forfeit $4.5 million and set up a $3 million fund that will work against doping in sports by providing research and education grants.