Former employee of Shri Thanedar says he overlooked drug safety concerns
In a deposition obtained by the Newschannel 3 I-Team, a former employee of Shri Thanedar said the democratic gubernatorial hopeful once overlooked concerns about a sexual enhancement product being tested by Thanedar's former company, and declined to notify authorities about the issue.
“We became aware of a client that was putting Viagra into a product … breaking many rules by doing that,” said Joel Crookston, a Portage resident who once worked for Thanedar’s former chemical and product testing company, Avomeen Analytical Services.
Thanedar told Newschannel 3 that the company was following appropriate and established protocol, and that complaints about his actions at the time are merely political attacks raised in light of his gubernatorial campaign.
Crookston was deposed in 2017 after he initially sued the state to try and overturn Michigan’s law prohibiting ballot selfies. Newschannel 3 interviewed Crookston at the time of the lawsuit.
The sexual enhancement product referenced by Crookston was called S.W.A.G. (Sex With A Grudge), according to sources. The product packaging included the slogan, “1 to hurt it, 2 to kill it."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration later warned consumers to stop taking S.W.A.G.
“FDA laboratory analysis confirmed that S.W.A.G contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in the FDA-approved prescription drug Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction,” read a statement issued by the FDA.
Crookston said he urged Thanedar, his boss at the time, to report the findings to the FDA.
“And he was not OK with that," Crookston said, according to the deposition.
Crookston later reported his concerns to the FDA without Thanedar’s knowledge.
“We didn’t see eye to eye on quality,” Crookston said, referring to his eventual departure from Thanedar and the product-testing company, Avomeen. “There were a couple of instances that were very questionable to me."
When the I-Team reached out to Thanedar about the claims Crookston made in the deposition, Thanedar defended his former company, saying that Avoleen notified the product’s manufacturer about its findings, and that ultimately it was up to the manufacturer to follow the proper protocol.
Thanedar also blamed political opponents who are “down in polls” for raising this issue amid Thanedar’s large advertising blitz in his run for the governor's office.
Below is Thanedar’s emailed response to Newschannel 3:
Avomeen is a 'fee for service' private business. Clients come to Avomeen looking for scientific answers and problem solving. We are similar to a medical doctor. When a patient comes in to a doctor, the doctor does not turn in the patient to police. Here are some examples of work done by Avomeen. In all of these instances, Avomeen gave complete and accurate info to the client but did not have enough information to report the client to the authorities. Avomeen assumed the client would do the right thing.
-- Mother finds pills in son’s room and brings it in for analysis. Avomeen found it was prescription medicine. Avomeen informed the mother, but did not turn in the mother to authorities.
-- Woman brings in flour which she used to make gravy. Avomeen found rat poison in it. The woman said she was having domestic issues. Avomeen assumed the woman would take necessary action as she saw fit.
-- Client brought in herbal ED medicine. Avomeen found Viagra in it. Avomeen informed the client that it is illegal to sell a product with prescription medicine without proper labeling and FDA approval. Avomeen assumed the client would follow its advice.
Avomeen solved 1,000s of such problems in a year. Avomeen always gave complete and accurate analysis to client but felt it did not have enough information about the circumstances under which the client obtained the sample and left further action to the customer.
This is standard practice in our industry. My opponents who are down in polls are using such attacks for political purpose.
Thanedar did not directly address Crookston in his emailed response to Newschannel 3. He did tell The Detroit News that he remembered Crookston, but did not remember or elaborate on the product at the center of Crookston’s concerns.