The Redondo Beach-based inventor of the cold remedy Zicam was sentenced Thursday to three years' probation for illegally marketing an unapproved drug that he claimed could prevent and treat bird flu.
Charles B. Hensley, 58, was indicted last year on a dozen felony charges related to sales of an influenza-treatment product called Vira 38 without U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. He pleaded guilty to one of the charges under an agreement with prosecutors, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Pio S. Kim.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt ordered Hensley to serve 400 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine, Kim said.
Hensley was arrested at his home last June by members of the Southern California Import Task Force, which consists of FDA and United States Postal Service agents and Los Angeles Police Department investigators.
According to prosecutors, Hensley operated PRB Pharmaceuticals Inc., which sought to sell Vira 38 as an influenza medication in Hong Kong.
When marketing efforts failed, in part, because of the lack of clinical data demonstrating the product's usefulness, Hensley promoted Vira 38 as a medication to fight the H5N1 virus, which causes what is commonly called bird flu, according to the indictment.
While Hensley touted Vira 38 as a cure for bird flu, the product had not been approved by the FDA, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.