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Inventor Of Zicam Gets 3 Years Probation For Unapproved Bird Flu Remedy

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The man who invented Zicam was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation for illegally marketing an unapproved drug he claimed could prevent and treat bird flu.

Charles B. Hensley, 58, of Redondo Beach, was indicted last year on a dozen felony charges related to sales of an influenza-treatment product called Vira 38 that did not have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Hensley pleaded guilty to one of the charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Pio S. Kim said.

Hensley was ordered to serve 400 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine, Kim said.

Hensley was arrested 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 investigators.

Prosecutors say Hensley operated PRB Pharmaceuticals Inc., which marketed 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 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.

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