The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is conducting an investigation into a Carrollton business that sells herbal products and other natural remedies for ailments.
Fifteen armed agents raided Tuesday morning the office of Humaworm, located at 609 Lexington St., across from the Carroll County Courthouse.
The owner of the business, Dr. Reba Bailey, said Wednesday the raid was “very scary,” but that the agents were polite and just following FDA protocol. She said she is confident that the probe, which she expects to take as long as six months, will find no wrongdoing.
Carroll County Sheriff Clint Walker said the agents, from the FDA’s New Orleans office, contacted him when they arrived into town and told him they were going to execute a search warrant of the business. They used space at the sheriff’s office to conduct interviews of Bailey and her two employees.
He said the agents provided him with no further information.
“I’m not sure on the particulars of the case,” Walker said Wednesday.
The sheriff told The Conservative that no arrests were made.
An FDA spokesman declined to provide any details.
“As a matter of policy, the FDA does not comment on possible criminal investigations,” Jeremy Kahn, a press officer, said in an email from his office outside of Washington.
Bailey, however, posted on Facebook Wednesday that the FDA agents confiscated “encapsulating machines, the herbs, the capsules, my computers and all of my old records,” effectively shutting down the business while the federal agency tests all of the herbs and blended formulas to verify their composition.
She wrote that the agents “were looking for illegal drugs — which I have never made — and for any herbs from overseas — which I do not use.”
She wrote that Humaworm, which she started in 2006, has always been in compliance with FDA regulations and passed its regular inspections.
In February 2017, however, the FDA sent Bailey a warning letter, saying it had “found serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act ... and applicable regulations.” The warning letter was issued following an FDA inspection in August 2016 of Humaworm’s office and the federal agency’s subsequent review of the labeling on the products the company sold there and online at www.humaworm.com.
It accused Humaworm of selling unapproved new drugs across state lines and that the products failed to bear adequate directions for their intended use.
That case appears to remain open, although Bailey said in an interview with the Commonwealth later Wednesday that she thought it had been closed. “When they came and inspected this summer, the inspectors did not say that I had anything open with them or any current issues with them.”
The website www.humaworm.com is still active, but it presently has nothing on it other than a landing page. Previously, according to the FDA, it contained numerous assertions that the herbal medicines Bailey creates, such as Humaworm Parasite Cleanser, can be used to deworm their users from parasitic infestations.
A doctor of naturopathic medicine, Bailey maintains that such parasites are the source of many medical problems. Naturopathic doctors believe in the ability of the body to heal itself and use herbal remedies or other alternative therapies — such as acupuncture or massage — to facilitate this healing. They are not licensed to write prescriptions.
Other products sold on the website included those that claimed to be effective against a wide range of diseases, from herpes to Lyme disease.
Bailey said she complied with the objections cited in the 2017 warning letter. She changed the name of some of her products and reworded some of the claims of what the products would do for those who used them.
She said the FDA agents who participated in Tuesday’s daylong raid focused mainly on whether she was importing herbs from overseas. She said that she purchases all of her ingredients from a California-based company, and that all of those ingredients come with a certificate of analysis stating the herb’s purity.
“I’m not going to buy something out of the back of a pickup truck, and I’m not going to import undocumented herbs out of China,” she said.
When asked what prompted the raid, Bailey said, “I feel like somebody may have said there was some illegal drug activity going on.”
She said, however, that she did not want to connect that false allegation against Humaworm to her belief that another business venture was undermined by some people in the tiny historic community.
“I don’t want people to think that I feel like I’m a target,” she said. “I don’t want people to think that. You just live and let live and just do the best you can.”
Bailey and her husband, Steve, moved from Oxford to Carrollton with their youngest child seven years ago. At various times, they operated a snowcone stand, an ice cream shop, a mechanic’s shop and, most recently, a grocery store — all of which have since closed.
When the grocery, located in the former 4K convenience store in North Carrollton, closed in July, Bailey was frustrated and said at the time that she and her family would be moving to Orange Beach, Alabama, within a year. They have since revised their plans. Bailey said Wednesday that her son, now a ninth-grader, wants to graduate with his friends and the family will remain at least until then.
She said Tuesday’s raid, while it provided grist for the rumor mill and will be a financial setback, is not a tragedy.
“I had an infant daughter that died in 1995, and she died in my arms. My father died in my arms. Our home burned to the ground in 2007, and we lost everything we owned. Those were tragedies. ... This is not a tragedy. This is a big bump in the road that we’re going to get over. I believe that. I have to believe that.”
• Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.