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GlaxoSmithKline has ordered two of its senior executives to resign from the board of a non-profit organisation that is selling resveratrol as a dietary supplement.
Christoph Westphal and Michelle Dipp formed the Healthy Lifespan Institute in 2009 with the knowledge of Glaxo, but a spokeswoman for the pharmaceutical giant said the company was not aware the institute was selling a resveratrol supplement on the internet.
The spokeswoman said: “The company has instructed the GSK employees to cease their association with this activity and Michelle Dipp and Christoph Westphal will be resigning their positions on the board of Healthy Lifespan.”
Resveratrol is a powerful polyphenol and anti-fungal chemical that is found in the skin of grapes and in red wine. It is thought it could help prevent heart disease and obesity.
GlaxoSmithKline is heavily involved in the advancement of resveratrol-based products. Two years ago it paid about $720 million (£462 million) to acquire Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, where Dipp and Westphal worked, and which is a market-leader in resveratrol research.
It has invested millions more in resveratrol’s potential to treat heart disease, diabetes and other age-related and diet-induced conditions.
The company’s pharmaceutical-grade version of resveratrol has not yet been given approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, but as a lower-dose dietary supplement it does not have to pass such stringent tests.
Copyright Press Association 2010