December 3, 2012 — The popular sports supplement DMAA (also known as “geranium oil,” or “dimethylamylamine”) has been associated with at least two deaths and dozens of adverse events, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has sent warning letters to 10 manufacturers of supplements containing DMAA. A recent investigation has found that all of the supplements can still be purchased online.
The problem with DMAA is that it can constrict blood vessels, elevate blood pressure, affect heart rhythm, and have other side effects. These cardiovascular effects may increase the risk of cardiac arrest and death.
Despite the life-threatening risks, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that all 16 products mentioned in the FDA warning letters can still be purchased from online retailers. Several manufacturers were still selling the products from their company websites — including USP Labs, which sells Jack3d, OxyElite Pro, and several other DMAA products.
The nation’s largest supplement retailer, General Nutrition Centers (GNC), was still selling 12 out of 16 products mentioned in the FDA warning letters. Another 8 products could be purchased at drugstore.com.
The continued availability of DMAA raises questions about the FDA’s ability to remove dietary supplements from the U.S. market once safety risks have been identified. Manufacturers of dietary supplements do not need to prove their product is safe or effective before they can sell it in the U.S. Products can be sold without warning labels. However, the FDA does have the authority to ban substances that pose an “unreasonable” risk to the public health and safety.
In the meantime, customers may be confused about whether the product is safe to consume. The Department of Defense (DOD) has banned sales of DMAA on military bases, following the deaths of two soldiers who suffered cardiac arrests during routine training. Several European countries, Australia, and New Zealand have also taken stronger action than the FDA to restrict sales of the supplement.
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