A prominent Long Island body builder has been arrested by federal agents on charges of illegally selling a drug that is in high demand in both the body-building underground and among victims of HIV-AIDs, according to officials.
David Palumbo, a nationally competitive body builder and the editor of "Rx Muscle" magazine, was charged Wednesday in U.S District Court in Central Islip with illegally distributing a counterfeit version of the human growth hormone, somatropin.
Palumbo, 36, of 3708 Somerset Dr., Seaford, did not fight his removal to San Diego where federal officials plan to arraign him on charges of conspiracy to distribute somatropin, also known as Serostim, and to traffic in counterfeit products.
Palumbo's attorney, Marc Gann, of Carle Place, declined to comment, as did Assistant United States Attorney Wayne Baker.
The drug, which is belived to mimic a normal human growth hormone in fostering muscle development, is legally available by prescription to combat severe wasting among AIDs patients. But it is eagerly sought in the black market of body building for its ability to foster muscle growth, supposedly without side effects, officials say.
For that reason it is considered by officials to be one of the drugs most widely diverted for illegal use. Somatropin is also costly; a month's dose for an AIDS patient can cost over $5,000. Controversy has surfaced in the medical community over whether the benefits to AIDs patients outweigh the drug's expense and whether less expensive treatments are equally effective.
Palumbo allegedly bought 200 boxes of a counterfeit version of Serostim from a San Diego supplier in July 2002 and subsequently resold some of the drug to individuals in Colorado and Washington State, according to Thomas Nasiatka, an agent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A month's supply is considered to be four boxes, each containing seven injectable doses, one for each day of the week.
U.S. Magistrate Arlene Lindsey released Palumbo on $50,000 bail on the understanding that he would voluntarily surrender himself to the Justice Department in San Diego. If convicted on the charges, Palumbo could face up to five years in prison.