July 16, 2012 — GNC and Vitamin Shoppe, two of America’s largest retailers of dietary supplements, continue to sell DMAA products despite increasing evidence that the products are synthetic drugs with deadly side effects. DMAA (also known as geranium oil/extract, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, and other names) is a stimulant drug that is an ingredient in many bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements as a pre-workout energy booster.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, GNC said that the company does not manufacture DMAA products, and they “are widely available at other retailer outlets.” Vitamin Shoppe officials have previously said that they will remove DMAA products if the FDA orders an official recall.
Despite mounting evidence about the dangers of DMAA, it has not been officially recalled or banned in the United States. The Department of Defense (DOD) banned the sales of DMAA on military bases after finding it in the bloodstream of two solders who died of heart attacks during routine training.
There is evidence that DMAA can tighten blood vessels, increase heart rate and blood pressure, which may increase the risk of heart attack. The FDA has also received reports of people suffering from cardiac disorders, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and death linked to DMAA. In 10 warning letters to DMAA manufacturers, the FDA said “synthetically-produced DMAA is not a ‘dietary ingredient’ and, therefore, is not eligible to be used as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement.”
The warning letters do not constitute a recall, and retailers are not banned from selling DMAA products.
GNC and Vitamin Shoppe may still be profiting off DMAA. Both companies have noted in securities filings that DMAA products are one of their top sellers. It is unknown how much of each company’s revenue comes from sales of DMAA. If the FDA officially recalls DMAA, it is possible that share prices could go down.
Although manufacturers continue to claim that DMAA is a natural derivative of the geranium plant, independent scientists have been unable to find DMAA in botanical samples. The original study was published in a Chinese journal that was not peer reviewed, and is now defunct. Most experts and the FDA now agree that DMAA is a synthetic drug. The most recent study, published in the journal of Analytical Toxicology, analyzed dozens of geranium samples and was unable to find any hint of DMAA.
Despite the lack of evidence linking DMAA to a natural source, dietary supplement companies such as GNC and Vitamin Shoppe continue to sell the product.
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