Because it is a dietary supplement and not a drug, it is not regulated by the FDA.
Some doctors say Anatabloc has promise. Clore, the VCU professor who attended the mansion event, said he was interested in doing research on the product.
“I’m a diabetes person,” Clore said. “The reason I was reading up on it is, there’s a lot of interest in inflammation as a major player in complications of diabetes. Compounds people use now . . . like aspirin or ibuprofen, decrease inflammation, which may, in turn, decrease risk of complication.”
Clore had heard about work being done on anatabine by a fellow endocrinologist, Paul Ladenson of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. A Star Scientific news release in January quoted Ladenson as touting the results of a “rigorously conducted, placebo-controlled, double blind trial.”
The release did not say where the study was done. But Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said that the study had not been conducted at the medical school and that none of its researchers was involved. Ladenson is a consultant for Star’s wholly owned subsidiary, Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, and Hoppe said he violated Hopkins’s policy by providing a quotation for the news release without having it approved by the school.
Ladenson did not respond to requests for comment.
As Star Scientific struggles with questions about the science, the company is facing a new challenge: a federal investigation.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment about the company. But in an annual report filed this month, Star Scientific said it received subpoenas from the U.S. attorney’s office in January and February as part of an investigation thought to be focused on transactions involving the company’s securities.
Star disclosed the existence of the investigation because it is a risk factor that could affect the company’s chances of success. The company said it believed the investigation to be “principally focused” on “private placements,” stock trades offered to a small group of interested investors, sometimes at a discount, rather than on the open market.
Kilgore declined to comment about the investigation.
Asked whether McDonnell, his wife or any other member of the administration has been interviewed about their relationships with Star Scientific and Williams, Caldwell said it would be inappropriate to comment, given the publicly disclosed federal investigation into the company.
Alice R. Crites and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.