I listened to last week’s episode about AST supplement company and just for fun, went to their website. But I didn’t see anything especially exciting.
They used to put out great stuff. What happened?
I don’t want to beat a dead horse on this topic, but AST hasn’t been an innovative company in a LONG time.
Having said that, their downfall may be worth examining.
Here then, is what really happened to sink AST Research (now AST-Sports Science).
It was December of 2003 when the FDA put AST and 61 other marketers on final notice. The FDA announced it would ban all ephedra products in four months.
AST’s response was a stepped-up, two-for-one promotion to sell off their inventory of Dymet-adrine Xtreme, the company’s flagship ephedra product.
“Buy 6 Dymetadrine Xtreme – Get 6 More Free!” read an AST three-day special on their website in March, 2004.
It didn’t seem to matter then, that AST let its product liability insurance lapse. I’m sure the cost of maintaining it was unsustainable.
AST eventually conceded that mounting “opportunistic” lawsuits over ephedra were threatening to sink the company. The first lawsuits were filed in 2001, and apparently took many years to resolve.
AST didn’t waste much time in making its next move: On April 30th 2004 – two weeks after the FDA’s ephedra ban – they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Denver’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
But it wasn’t just ephedra that really sunk them.
Nine lawsuits – five involving ephedra and four class-action cases filed over AST’s pro-hormone line – portrayed the company as a public health menace.
Jurors were horrified to hear company president.
I think the honest answer to the question of “what happened to AST Research” is best summed up by company owner Paul Delia. He once told The Rocky Mountain News, “We had become a litigation company instead of a sports nutrition research, development and marketing company.”
They just couldn’t capture the lightning in a bottle thing they had going when the company was new. The products were anything but innovative, didn’t work nearly as well as the originals and the sky seemed their only limit.
Today, AST doesn’t even carry GABA, Dymetadrine Xtreme (nor any thermogenic) and their pro hormone category consists of DHEA.
About the only good thing that can be said is that AST is still (barely) functioning, where many of their late 90’s contemporaries (Sports Pharma, Sports One, Ultimate Nutrition), etc. went out of business long ago.