Mmmm, pesticide cut with baking powder, yum!

Matt Cahill is pretty much unqualified to do anything.

Cahill said he had been pursuing a program in exercise physiology, but when questioned by attorneys he couldn’t remember taking any courses in chemistry or pharmacology. He never received any degree. Before the accident, his job experience after high school involved working as a condominium lifeguard and at an ice rink.

But, he said,

“I had a scientific background in school, I just don’t have a degree.”

That’s all it takes to be a hack who markets supplements…supplements that cause liver damage, blindness, or kill. As it turns out, all those companies selling magic pills have a loophole: call it a dietary supplement, and the federal inspectors are mostly incapable of doing anything about it, short of the pill actually killing people with cyanide or something obvious.

But Matt Cahill can cut insecticide with baking powder and sell it as a “weight loss supplement”. It actualy works — low grade poisoning will tend to make you shed pounds. His pills killed a young woman, a crime for which he served a two year sentence, and as soon as he got out he was packaging marginal chemicals as “herbal supplements” for body builders and raking in $30,000/month.

a href=’http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/25/bodybuilding-supplement-designer-matt-cahill-usa-today-investigation/2568815/’>Read the whole disgraceful story (warning: autoplay video at link!).

Comments

  1. congenital cynic says

    As someone who actually has a degree in chemistry, and research experience, you don’t fuck with poisons and put them in your body. And you would only sell them as ingestible products if you were a brainless, heartless, greedy shithead. This guy needs to be back behind bars.

    And it’s an odd coincidence that I just said to my 15 year old son a few minutes ago (after him saying something about people taking horse tranquilizers) that if you didn’t get it from a pharmacy, then you don’t know what it is you are putting into your mouth. And you NEVER take it. Ever.

  2. congenital cynic says

    Not to mention that there are things that you get from a pharmacy that you might want to think twice about before taking them.

    People who make and sell drugs are in it for one reason, and it’s not your well being. It’s all about the money. Sometimes the “well being” and the “money” line up in the same drug, but not always.

  3. raven says

    As someone who actually has a degree in chemistry, and research experience,…

    You don’t need a degree in chemistry to know enough not to sell insecticides to humans for internal use. You don’t even need a high school diploma.

    Just think about what an insecticide is and what it does, kills insects. If you are really smart, read the label which is full of dire warmings. And Google knows almost everything.

    Something is drastically wrong with this Matt Cahill guy.

    I don’t even use insecticides or herbacides in my yard. My furry companions walk around barefoot all year around. I’ve never noticed the need. Once the ecology balanced out, there weren’t any invertebrate pest problems. The slugs got knocked way back by the garter snakes. Oddly enough, the snails took over probably because with a shell they are harder for predators to eat. Big deal, the snails don’t do enough damage to worry about.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s gotten so any raw material we get from China has to go through a pesticide screen. That, of course, raises the price of what we sell. But the QA (Quality Assurance) folks of our clients like the paper trail showing the material is clean….You want your new drugs cheaper? Don’t demand absolute safety….

  5. says

    @ Raven #3

    The slugs got knocked way back by the garter snakes.

    And spiders are way cool. Along with ladybugs. When my family had a garden when I was a kid my father taught me to avoid disturbing a spider’s web. Kill the white worms, leave the other kind alone. We never used pesticides of any kind.

    This diet pill story disturbs me. I’ve heard of vulture capitalism but what the hell do you call this?

  6. raven says

    I just read the USAToday article.

    The pesticide was DNP, Dinitrophenol.

    It’s a simple, old drug that has been around a long time. IIRC, it is a mitochondrial uncoupler that separates mitochondrial redox from energy production.

    It”s been known since the 1930′s to be very toxic to humans and it’s been banned for that long.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s a simple, old drug that has been around a long time. IIRC, it is a mitochondrial uncoupler that separates mitochondrial redox from energy production.

    Oh, and not to mention a potential explosive, not as bad as trinitrophenol, or picric acid a likely impurity…

  8. Zugswang says

    Oh yeah, DNP is a great weight loss supplement. It’s also great for giving you hyperthermia and killing you, which is why I thought it was banned, but apparently, the dietary supplement loophole is bigger than I thought.

    I wonder if people could get away with selling Rofecoxib as a “dietary supplement”?

  9. says

    His pills killed a young woman, a crime for which he served a two year sentence, and as soon as he got out he was packaging marginal chemicals as “herbal supplements” for body builders and raking in $30,000/month.

    I wasn’t aware that bodybuilders went in for “herbal supplements”. I thought they preferred to die young of abuse of diuretics, painkillers, and steroids. Oh, and kidney failure from long-term overconsumption of protein.

    I guess it’s really true: you learn something new every day.

  10. otrame says

    So are we going to go back to selling tape worm segments inside a capsule for a weight loss? I suppose the turn-of-the-century journalists and doctors who tried to put an end to snake oil salesmen were all a bunch od socialists and the invisible hand of the market place will protect us from the greedy fuckers.

    Right?

    We need to enforce science-based food additive rules. Will some industries go out of business? Yep. Will people lose jobs? You bet. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of bastards.
    ________
    By the way, I have found that the best way of dealing with snails, which do a lot of damage in my garden, is a method that is 100% organic. I throw them over the fence to the road that runs next to my back yard. The fall usually cracks their shells and the birds, especially the mockingbirds, absolutely love them. I’ve tossed as many as a hundred in a single evening, though that number diminishes quickly after the first flush of what I call “snail season”. I have never needed to use any other kind of critter killer in my garden, though I do have problems with fungus infections. I find I average a ripening tomato lost to birds and/or squirrels in every ten I harvest, but I consider that my tithe to the non-human members of our community.

  11. anuran says

    Dang, I thought I was being edgy and dangerous using Hawthorne, Burdock and Chickweed instead of Lasix when I was without insurance.

  12. anuran says

    Argh. Hit “Submit” without thinking.

    USDA-certified organic Hawthorne, Burdock and Chickweed. Dosage is always a problem with herbs, but at least I can be sure I wasn’t getting any herbicides or pesticides.

  13. fourtytwo says

    I worked for around 10 years in pharmaceutical research. The drug industry is far from perfect, but the hoops you have to jump through to get a new medicine approved at least insure that the stuff you take has evidence to say it actually works and that the benefits outweigh the side-effects. Therefore, herbal medicines, dietary supplements, homeopathic remedies, nutraceuticals and the like make me really frustrated that they don’t have the same burden of proof. I can’t believe we are still making, selling and buying snake oil in the 21st century.

  14. Lofty says

    I can’t believe we are still making, selling and buying snake oil in the 21st century.

    Snakes, misleading humanity since 4004BC, still going strong.

  15. says

    Paul Offit covers the differences in rules for medicine and supplements pretty well in his newest book Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

  16. great1american1satan says

    This is a thorny subject and problematic comment thread in more ways than I care to get into. But suffice it to say, selling people something you know is poison is pure, unmitigated evil. He knows the rubes aren’t as smart as he is, and likes the idea of them paying him to murder them. His kind should be locked away on the dark side of the muffuckin’ moon.

  17. musical beef says

    @The Vicar, #10:

    Most bodybuilders will take anything, do anything, if they think it will help them gain muscle and lose fat. As someone who’s certainly not a bodybuilder, but pretty well-acquainted with the fitness scene, it’s my experience that most bodybuilders’ stance wrt supplements like this is a very credulous one. Lots, LOTS of money gets flushed down the toilet (almost literally!).

  18. says

    I’m a CrossFit person working on building up muscle. I’ve been trying to research various powders and pills and was already seeing red flags before the USA Today article. I think I’ll stick to actual food.

  19. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    I had a scientific background in school, I just don’t have a degree

    What does that even mean ?

    The asshat doesn’t even know how to read a fucking MSDS, which all the things he’s stuffed into pills definitely have, and was probably included right in the shipping manifest.

    Oh yeah, DNP is a great weight loss supplement.

    Oh yeah.

    If I remember well, Nazi Germany liked it a lot (does that count as Godwin ?).

    This is why I don’t thrust supplements. Any ignorant, sociopathic, greedy shmoe who knows how to find a supplier can manufacture and sell them, without any oversight.

  20. chigau (meh) says

    I’ve always thought that ‘protein supplement’ meant having another burger.

  21. says

    My idea of a “dietary supplement” is to serve two or three different vegetables at dinner time instead of just one. :-)

    ——-

    WRT the OP, the other half of the equation here is the tendency of many people who are ignorant of science (often willfully so) to fall for the claims that “supplements” are safe and effective, such as the claims fabricated by the evil poison-peddler. My husband’s father was such a one. Though he was educated and generally sensible, he simply could not resist the marketing hype attached to these products. Over the last few decades of his life, he spent a LOT of money — probably tens of thousands of dollars — on all sorts of crap. He tried one thing after another, sometimes taking 20 or 30 different “supplements” each day. (“But they’re ‘natural’!” he’d say. “They’re perfectly safe!”) Natural does not always equal safe or useful. What a colossal waste of money.

    ——

    I used to be head of research for the risk management department of a major U.S. property-casualty insurer; it was my job to research risks associated with certain products, lines of business, etc., to assist underwriters could in making reasonable decisions about which prospective clients to insure. (Extremely interesting work!) I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the manufacture and marketing of dietary supplements. That insurer refused to insure manufacturers of dietary supplements, considering them far too high a risk for claims, losses, liability, and litigation.

  22. brucecoppola says

    Yet another reminder that the only things separating me (and many other ordinary people) from great wealth are those pesky scruples.

  23. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    I’ve always thought that ‘protein supplement’ meant having another burger.

    I’ve used it interchangeably to mean a fly in your drink, a bug in your bowl of fruit, or the bugs that inevitably fly in your mouth when you decide to ride your bike near a lake around sundown.

    But I like your definition better.

  24. Usernames are smart says


    I had a scientific background in school, I just don’t have a degree

    What does that even mean ? — kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith (#22)

    Seeing as how “science” is so broad a term as to be useless when describing skills or background, I’m guessing he took a science class or two in any field, say Maths or Astronomy or whatever.

    Hell, I have a background in science (Geophysics), AND a degree, but outside of my field, I got opinions and that’s it.

    On the other hand, having a degree means nothing in terms of actual knowledge/understanding/application. It simply means one passed all one’s classes and successfully defended one’s dissertation/thesis.

  25. Rich Woods says

    @brucecoppola #25:

    Yet another reminder that the only things separating me (and many other ordinary people) from great wealth are those pesky scruples.

    Just imagine what it would be like if we were all truly the “rational actors” which so many economists base their theories on…

  26. kevskos says

    And the EPA cannot go after the scumbag under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) that regulates pesticides because I am sure he did not put that it kills stuff on the label. If you do not put that on the label the EPA cannot do anything under FIFRA.
    ____

    If you sell bleach and you put on the label that it kills bacteria you need to have the label approved by the EPA, include the EPA regestration number on the label and accept regulation under FIFRA. Sell the same bleach and just say it is good for cleaning you do not need to bother with the EPA at all.

  27. anne mariehovgaard says

    I had a scientific background in school, I just don’t have a degree

    What does that even mean ?

    Periodic table poster behind his desk. Where he couldn’t see it.

  28. says

    @ otrame #11

    I suppose the turn-of-the-century journalists and doctors who tried to put an end to snake oil salesmen were all a bunch od socialists and the invisible hand of the market place will protect us from the greedy fuckers.

    @ fourtytwo #14

    I can’t believe we are still making, selling and buying snake oil in the 21st century

    Recently I let myself get drawn into a couple long comment threads with libertarians. both of whom pulled some astronomical number out of their butts of people who died because of the delay in bringing drugs through the FDA approval process. It’s a big meme for the right-wing in the U.S. that the FDA does more harm than good. They have no idea of the history of unregulated medicine, or the History of drug trials and the events leading up to the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. (Quick version for those who do not want to follow the link: some super-geniuses at a pharmaceutical company liquified sulfa using what we also use as anti-freeze in car radiators — hundreds of people died).

  29. Angela Freeman says

    I read the article, and I read the blog posts where they say that their current product ‘Craze’ is totally safe.
    They tested it via Mass Spec for diethylphenethylamine, which was negative, but did not retort whether it contained phenethylamine (which the USADA tested for and said was positive).
    The reviews on amazon often discuss how ‘jittery’ it made them. Probably because it’s AMPHETAMINE.

    This s*** just makes me mad that people 1) can get away with poisoning people 2) that people feel the need to take these random supplements to get beefcake.
    You can get beefy without them the natural way! (and by natural I mean, eating food, not ‘natural’ supplements).