April 10, 2015 — Vitamin Shoppe has pulled all supplements containing the amphetamine-like stimulant BMPEA off store shelves, while the FDA continues to take no action.
Two years ago, the FDA tested 21 supplements that listed extracts of the Acacia rigidula plant on their label. Nine of those supplements were found to contain varying amounts of BMPEA.
The FDA published their results in a journal, but never named the supplements or issued any recalls, public warnings, or restrictions on manufacturers, and said it “does not identify a specific safety concern at this time.”
Last year, Dr. Pieter Cohen and colleagues at Harvard Medical School did another round of testing and identified 11 supplements on store shelves with BMPEA. In a study published earlier this month, they named all 11 supplements and Vitamin Shoppe promptly pulled them off store shelves.
Dr. Cohen said the ingredient was first synthesized in the 1930s as an alternative to amphetamines. Its safety and effectiveness in humans is unknown. He told ABC News:
“There’s an unbelievably potent stimulant, a close relative, a brother of amphetamines — that’s found in multiple different brands of supplements. But much more alarming than this is that even though the FDA has known about this for the last two years, they have done absolutely nothing to remove these supplements from the market.”
According to the New York Times, the FDA’s failure to act may be rooted in ties to the industry and conflicts of interest at the top:
“In recent years, two of the agency’s top officials overseeing supplements — including one currently on the job — were former leaders of the largest supplement industry trade and lobbying group.”
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