The FDA versus the Life Extension Foundation

by Ben Best

(based on "Victory Over the FDA" by Saul Kent)

The concept of life extension lies beyond the boundaries of therapeutic categories in the limited minds of government bureaucrats who are satisfied with their limited lifespans. This would not be worrisome were it not for the fact that it can lead to murderous constriction of the lifespan ambitions of those with more knowledge & imagination than the bureaucrats.

The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) refused to include life-extension within its treatment categories — refusing to acknowledge that aging is a disease. For the FDA, everything that is not acknowledged is prohibited. In imposing its narrow-minded rules upon the lives of others, the FDA has waged a long & vicious battle against the Life Extension Foundation (LEF,, in particular (and those who could benefit from its products).

The Life Extension Foundation was founded by Saul Kent, a science journalist with an intense desire to find means of slowing aging — and ultimately of ending death. LEF studied scientific literature for evidence of life-extending properties of vitamins and other nutrients. The results of these researches were published in a magazine (currently LIFE EXTENSION) and made available as products through mail-order sales. Saul Kent has remained President, but Vice-President William Faloon has effectively acted as CEO after Saul began founding other new companies devoted to life-extension.

Shortly before opening-time on the morning of February 26, 1987 twenty-five armed Federal Drug Administration (FDA) agents & US marshalls smashed thorough the glass doors of the Life Extension Foundation store, simultaneously raiding the nearby warehouse in Florida. With drawn guns, the agents lined LEF employees against the wall while seizing products, literature, documents, computers and personal effects — more than 80% of which were not within the authority of the search warrant.

Having lost most of their product inventory, LEF principals Saul Kent & Bill Faloon were facing 5-to-20 years in prison. All the attorneys they consulted recommended a guilty plea as the only possible means of reducing prison time. Instead, Kent & Faloon fought back both in the courts and through political action. A Political Coordinator's Office was established at LEF. LEF members (numbering less than 5,000) cooperated with letters, FAXes and phone calls to political leaders.

On January 9, 1991 the FDA raided the LEF Arizona Shipping Office with the complicity of the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. A permanent embargo was placed against all future shipments of 42 LEF products, including Life Extension Mix and Coenzyme-Q10. Fifteen days after the embargo, LEF lawyers handed a 300-page lawsuit to the Attorney General of Arizona — who promptly ordered the Pharmacy Board to lift the embargo. The Pharmacy Board Director agreed that his agents would take no future actions on behalf of the FDA without investigating matters themselves first.

The FDA then threatened that Kent & Faloon would become the target of criminal indictments that would "destroy their lives forever" and were told to plead guilty of crimes against the state. Kent & Faloon responded with a lawsuit against the FDA in a Florida District Court seeking an injunction against discriminating prosecution.

On November 7, 1991 Kent & Faloon were arrested and thrown into an 8-by-8 Fort Lauderdale jail cubicle containing several men charged with drug-related crimes. Several hours later they were taken handcuffed before a magistrate who informed them that they were charged with 28 criminal counts, including conspiracy to sell unapproved drugs. After more hours in jail, they were released on $825,000 bail each.

Kent & Faloon retaliated by filing motions attacking the legal & constitutional foundation of the indictment. They charged that the FDA had illegally obtained the search warrant and had illegally seized many items not on the warrant. They also filed a motion charging that they were being selectively prosecuted by the FDA, because AIDS Buyer's Clubs similarly informed their members of the FDA policy of allowing importation of drugs for personal use.

Despite continued threats of more FDA indictments that could put Kent & Faloon in jail for the rest of their lives, LEF became the first company to offer pharmaceutical-grade Melatonin in the United States in 1992. In 1994, LEF established the "FDA Holocaust Museum" to document "the 70-year reign of terror that the FDA had perpetuated against Americans".

In 1995 the FDA began exerting strong pressure to bring its lengthy legal fight against the Life Extension Foundation to trial. The FDA told Kent & Faloon that in exchange for a guilty plea they would not have to go to prison and could continue doing business on a more limited basis. The FDA wanted to censor the contents of LIFE EXTENSION magazine and probably intended to "regulate" LEF by limiting the products they could sell. Instead of pleading guilty, Kent & Faloon filed a new battery of legal motions, escalated their political attacks on the FDA and began extensive preparations for their trial.

In November 1995, the FDA dropped all charges except the charge of "obstruction of justice" against Saul Kent. In February, 1996 even this charge was dropped. It was the first time in the history of the FDA that the agency had given-up on a criminal indictment against a political opponent.