Calif. man pleads guilty in bird flu remedy case

August 8, 2011 - 6:59 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The inventor of the cold remedy Zicam has pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to illegally distributing an unapproved herbal product that he claimed treated and prevented bird flu.

Charles Hensley of Redondo Beach pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to introducing a product called Vira 38 without receiving Food and Drug Administration approval. He faces up to a year in prison when he's sentenced Nov. 21.

The 57-year-old Hensley tried to promote Vira 38 as a regular flu remedy in Hong Kong during the H5N1 virus scare in 2005.

Prosecutors said when that effort failed he claimed his product contained compounds that inhibit the bird flu virus and started selling the product in the U.S.

An email request for comment from defense attorney Kerry Bensinger was not immediately returned.