A decade ago, Michael Ellis was one of San Diego’s highest-flying entrepreneurs. His company, Metabolife International, and its ephedra diet pill, Metabolife 356, were billion-dollar babies.
Today, Metabolife 356, like all other ephedra-based products, is banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Metabolife International is a long-defunct company. And sometime this morning Michael Ellis will finish serving six months in prison for lying to the FDA about reports of serious health problems — like heart attacks, strokes and seizures — by consumers who took Metabolife 356.
But Ellis is coming out swinging.
Coinciding with Ellis’ release from prison is the release of “The Metabolife Story: The Rape of Cinderella.” The book is a “detailed account of the rise and fall of Metabolife, one of the most successful, yet ultimately unfairly characterized dietary supplement companies in history,” according to a promotional synopsis of the book.
Ellis’ publicist sent me a copy of the book and said he’ll try to get me an interview with Ellis sometime next week. I’ll peruse the book over the weekend just in case Ellis and I do talk. I’ll also re-read UT reporter Penni Crabtree’s 2003 investigation into Metabolife.