Five Chipley residents filed suit Friday against the creator and distributor of a nutritional supplement called "Total Body," which they say caused bodily injury.
Attorney Wes Pittman filed the class action suit on behalf of Stockton and Tammy Hess, Margaret Thompson, Brenda and John Adams, as well as unnamed plaintiffs who might come forward later. Pittman sued Wright Pharma Inc., Global Nutrition LLC and Total Body Essential Nutrition Inc.
In the complaint, filed in 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Chipley, Pittman wrote that a batch of Total Body Formula created by Wright and distributed by Total Body was defective and contained "an excess of selenium."
"In excess, selenium is a toxin to humans and causes, among other things, hair loss, severe muscle cramps, motor neuron death leading in some cases to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and endocrine disturbances including thyroid hormone and insulin regulation problems," Pittman wrote. The plaintiffs, he wrote, suffered one or more of these symptoms.
Pittman sued for damages but also asked that Total Body and Wright be stopped from distributing its product. Pittman told The News Herald that Total Body Formula has been distributed throughout Northwest Florida.
"Many people have used the product for years," he said. "I am aware of some who have used it for 10 years without untoward effects. However, some bad lots have recently been produced and the people who ingest the bad lots, which contain an excess of selenium, experience profound and progressive effects within days. The problems caused by excessive selenium in the diet are dramatic enough that an episode of the television series 'House' was devoted to it."
Pittman warned the bad batches of this product, "which are on the shelves of pharmacies and nutritional companies, should not be purchased or used because they are very dangerous to health."
"People who have bought and consumed Total Body Formula should stop using it and should preserve any unused portion in the original packaging in their refrigerators as evidence in case symptoms develop," he said. "They are also urged to seek prompt medical diagnosis and care from a physician trained in neurology and toxicology."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning Thursday, saying it has information on 23 people in Florida who "experienced serious reactions to these products seven to 10 days after ingestion." The administration advised consumers not to "purchase or consume Total Body Formula" in tropical orange and peach nectar flavors, or the mega formula in the orange/tangerine flavor.
The FDA says the product has been distributed in 15 states, including Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Andrea Turner, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health, told The Associated Press three people in her state have suffered hair loss and diarrhea after ingesting Total Body Formula.