An amphetamine-like compound that has never been tested in humans is present in a range of popular diet pills and sports supplements, a study in a pharmacological journal has found.
An amphetamine-like compound that has never been tested in humans is in a range of popular diet pills and sports supplements, a study in a pharmacological journal has found.
The substance, known as BMPEA, is found in products advertised as containing Acacia rigidula, a shrub native to Texas. In fact, the study said, the compound can only be produced synthetically, is not listed on labels, and its health risks are unknown.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis, said the Food and Drug Administration discovered the presence of BMPEA in dietary supplements in 2013 but failed to warn consumers or order its removal.
Spokeswoman Juli Putnam acknowledged the agency published research on BMPEA found in Acacia rigidula supplements in 2013.
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“While our review of the available information on products containing BMPEA does not identify a specific safety concern at this time, the FDA will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers,” she said.
The manufacturer of Arco Black Series Burn said Monday it was pulling all products containing BMPEA from its website.
“While the FDA has not declared the fat-burning ingredient BMPEA to be harmful,” said Kathleen Reed, an executive with Vitacost, a Boca Raton, Fla., unit of grocery giant Kroger, “we take safety concerns very seriously for all of the 45,000-plus products sold on Vitacost.com.”
The study is another round in a long-running battle among supplement makers, regulators and researchers over the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements, which, under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, are not subject to FDA testing before being brought to market.
With the FDA empowered to act only after problems are discovered, the result has been a cat-and-mouse game in which researchers discover problems, regulators act, and supplement makers adjust their products and practices, only to start the process all over again.
Just last month, nutritional-supplements retailing giant GNC Holdings signed a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requiring it to begin using DNA-based testing to authenticate the ingredients in a series of herbal supplements.
The latest study — by Cohen, his Harvard Medical School colleague Clayton Bloszies, Caleb Yee of Haverford College, and Roy Gerona of the University of California, San Francisco — stems from research the FDA itself began in 2012 on supplements featuring the Acacia rigidula plant.
In a 2013 paper, the agency revealed the presence of a “nonnatural” amphetamine-like substance in nine of 21 supplements tested.
The recent study tested 21 brands of Acacia rigidula supplements and found BMPEA in more than half of them. Among them were Jet Fuel Superburn, Jet Fuel T-300, Fastin-XR, and other supplements made by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, based in Norcross, Ga. The company did not immediately comment.
The study said research on dogs and cats from the 1930s and 1940s showed BMPEA was associated with increased blood pressure and heart rate. It is among the compounds banned by the World Anti-Doping Association.