The Newest Pyramid Scheme

Many have heard of multilevel marketing, aka, pyramid schemes. But Health 4 Wealth, a new company from Largo, is no ordinary MLM company. The distributors aren’t selling Tupperware or candles, but rather “pharmaceutical grade” diet pills called Zylene.

Christine Rutemiller, a Health 4 Wealth distributor, explains that Metabolife was 8%  of Geopharma Inc.’s market. But according to the company’s 2004 financial filings, it was more like 15.8%. Ephedra, the active ingredient in Metabolife, was banned in 2004 because of the public outcry after pitcher Steve Bechler, of the Baltimore Orioles, died of complications from ephedra.

Rutemiller explains, “Mihir Taneja, of Geopharma, another Largo based company, helped designed Zylene to replace the lost market after ephedra was banned.”

Larry Smith, Health 4 Wealth’s CEO, says that they advertise the supplement as “pharmaceutical grade” as a marketing tool. “It’s a generic term,” says Smith. The phrase simply explains the company’s own quality control checks.

“It’s like USF doing their own audit, you can’t insource your own quality control,” says Pierce Wolfinbarger, a biomedical science student at USF.

Unfortunately, the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate supplements. The government only intervenes after records prove that a product has adverse side effects.

Dr. Eric Coris, director of the Sports Medicine Institute and head medical team physician for the Department of Athletics at USF, says this biggest problem facing athletes today. “The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry. They are going to resist regulations,” says Coris.

When asked whether a supplement or drug is dangerous because of its regulations or its affects, Coris responded, “If it has the same effects (as Ephedra), it’s going to be just as dangerous.” The problem with stimulants like Zylene, xenadrine, energy drinks, Trimspa and ephedra is that they can unmask underlying problems causing heart arrhythmia, stroke or exhaustion.

“The supplement industry takes advantage of athletes,” says Coris. The athletes are looking for anything to give them that competitive edge.

Zylene’s packaging warns to avoid use if “chronically ill, taking prescriptions, over the counter medicine, antidepressants, stimulants, allergy medications, high blood pressure or cardiovascular conditions.”

Gina Young, a pre-med and religion studies student, says of Zylene’s product, “because of side effects, it is not worth it. “

Asked whether he foresaw a problem with word of mouth marketing of a stimulant supplement like Zylene, Coris said “ Absolutely, I see extreme danger in word of mouth marketing.” Communication studies show the word of mouth communication is one of the most trusted sources of advertising. “The distributor has vested interest in selling the product, so information will be skewed even more,” Coris explains.

By Courtney Herrig

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18 Responses to “The Newest Pyramid Scheme”

  1. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    good investigation, i like how u mentioned the warning on the labels. you also got really good quotes from people who seem to know what they are taalking about

  2. Priscilla Says:

    Couple editing errors, but interesting story.

  3. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    watch howw you set up and brake up the quotes. the more separate the quotes and paraphrase are, the easier they are to read and understand.
    good story and good reporting!

  4. Aaron Says:

    Just one reason why I never take pills. I know that is weird.

  5. William Says:

    There is something terribly wrong here as the makers of this product are now into their third variation of the product. As of last check there are ingredients such as green tea now being formulated into this product and yet h4w says the product is caffeine free someone needs to tear into this product like a bio chemist and give us the real facts.

  6. Danielle Says:

    A customer of mine gave me a free sample of the zylene. On the package says their web address. I Wanted to research it before I took i because the package does not list the side effects in detail. I was very glad to find this article! =] Thank you.

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  8. coby Says:

    Tried some today @2pm and when I got home almost riped everyone head off. It’s 10pm and I’m still wired PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!!

  9. Sarah Says:

    I see this is an older article. The green tea has since changed to having caffeine due to the fact that it’s more natural and contains antioxidants (270 mg of ECGC). Zylene no longer says “Caffeine Free.” The company is primarily concerned with BETTER HEALTH, which is why it isn’t just a weight loss product. They also have a vitamin, mineral, and are coming out with more! Also, Pharmaceutical Grade means these supplements are made in a PHARMACY as a scheduled drug. How can you claim there are no regulations on this?!?! Your quotes are great, but let’s work on the research. I don’t think companys have the right to do their own quality check on PHARMACEUTICAL products lol.

  10. Samantha Says:

    As with any supplement or “diet” pill, you should always do some research on a product first. You should aslo check with your DR before you take anything with prescribed meds. However keep in mind doctors are geared toward pharmaceutical companies and hate “herbs” or “natural remedies”.Alot of the problems stem from excess in taking to much to acheive an unrealistic goal. If you want to lose weight, limit your intake and take supplements to help you but don’t abuse them. Remeber you didn’t gain weight overnight so you can’t lose it overnight either. Again educate yourself and take the do it yourself approach because the bottom line is only you can take care of yourself.

  11. Sarah Says:

    Health4Welath refuses to give medical advice and all associates highly recommend discussing with their physician BEFORE taking this product. The product is also all natural except for the casing of the pill, which you neglect to mention. You do a wonderful job of persuading your readers, too bad your facts are wrong.

  12. Tina Says:

    I have recently taken the Zylene and found it to be effective. After reading a few opinions regarding the product, I have to agree with a few people regarding Doctors being geared towards Pharmaceutical Companies and disliking the fact that there are natural remedies/herbs that are just as effective. Another woman wrote an artical how wired she was at 2p.m. after taking it in the morning. Maybe she should have tried taking just one (depending on her size) or half of one. That’s what I do being 108lbs. I’m merely taking it because I have 2 children with zero energy at the end of the day, not to lose weight. 🙂

  13. Jason Says:

    zylene does have a few side effects but 99% of zylene users will never encounter them.

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