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DMAA Made by Patrick Arnold, BALCO Sports-Doping Chemist

DMAA Made by Patrick Arnold, BALCO Sports-Doping Chemist

October 3, 2013 — DMAA was introduced to the dietary supplement market by Patrick Arnold, a chemist who served time in federal prison for his role in the BALCO / Barry Bonds sports-doping scandal, according to an investigation conducted by the Washington Post.

In 2006, Arnold was convicted of trafficking steroids to professional athletes and served 3 months in federal prison and 3 months of home-confinement. Arnold specialized in creating performance-enhancing “designer drugs” for professional athletes that would not be detected in normal drug tests.

One of his most popular drugs, DMAA (also known as methylhexanamine or 1,3-dimethylamylamine), was first sold in 1944 by Eli Lilly & Company as a nasal decongestant spray called Forthane. The drug was not very successful, and Eli Lilly discontinued it a few years later.

In the mid-2000s, ephedrine was banned from dietary supplements. Soon after, Arnold trademarked methylhexanamine as “Geranamine.” He claimed it was an “all-natural” extract of the geranium plant, and began selling it over the internet in a performance-enhancing supplement called Ergopharm’s Ergolean AMP.

The Post discovered the link when they paid a professional sports-doping chemist, Don Catlin, to test AMP for illicit substances. After detecting methylhexanamine (DMAA), Catlin warned:

“The chemical structure is similar to amphetamines and ephedrine. In this class of drugs, everything depends on the dose. Take enough of it and your heart rate and blood pressure will go up and you can die.”

The company that manufactures AMP claimed “Geranamine” was an all-natural extract of the geranium plant, and therefore legal in dietary supplements. However, the Post pointed out that ephedrine, an illegal substance, is derived from a natural source. Furthermore, dietary supplement ingredients introduced after 1994 must be reported to the FDA, and there is no evidence that Arnold’s company reported “Geranamine.”

Arnold may have sparked a craze in the dietary supplement community for DMAA. By 2012, the drug was an ingredient in approximately 200 products manufactured by dozens of companies. The most popular and profitable products, OxyElite Pro and Jack3D, generated millions in profit for their manufacturer, USPLabs.

The FDA started cracking down on the illegal supplement in April 2012, when they sent warning letters to 11 manufacturers, including USPLabs. By that time, 86 adverse events were reported, including several deaths caused by heart problems. The FDA warns that DMAA side effects include heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest tightness, seizures, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and liver failure.

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