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Crime & Justice

Redondo Beach resident Charles Hensley, inventor of Zicam, sentenced for selling untested drug

Charles B. Hensley
Charles B. Hensley

Zicam, a zinc-based nasal cold remedy, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mostly, and is legally sold over the counter in drug stores everywhere.

But another drug invented by Charles Hensley, the Redondo Beach man who invented Zicam, never was approved by the FDA -- and Hensley got in hot water last year with federal and local officials for essentially bypassing the rules in marketing and selling it.

Today Hensley, 58, was sentenced for his crimes by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt to three years probation, as well as 400 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.

Hensley had originally faced 12 felony counts related to the marketing and sale of his new drug, the effectiveness and safety of which were never proved to the U.S. government’s satisfaction. He pleaded guilty to one of the charges under a deal with prosecutors, officials said.

The drug in question is called Vira 38, and Hensley claimed it could cure bird flu. He had originally touted it as a flu remedy in Hong Kong through his company PRB Pharmaceuticals, according to reports. In June of last year he was arrested “on charges of illegally bringing [it] into the United States and distributing the product to customers around the nation,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced at the time.