October 3, 2013 — The Washington Post reports that Patrick Arnold, a chemist who gained notoriety in the BALCO / Barry Bonds sports-doping scandal, was responsible for re-introducing DMAA to the dietary supplement market in 2005. It was originally marketed as a nasal decongestant spray in the 1940s, but was discontinued a few years later.
In August 2006, Arnold served 3 months in federal prison and 3 months in home-confinement after he was convicted of trafficking steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to top athletes. Arnold specialized in creating “designer drugs” that couldn’t be detected in normal drug tests.
One of those drugs was DMAA (also known as methylhexanamine or 1,3-dimethylamylamine). Arnold began selling it in the mid-2000s, shortly after ephedrine was banned by the FDA. He trademarked it under the name “Geranamine” and began selling the amphetamine-like drug over the internet in a product called Ergopharm’s Ergolean AMP.
The link was discovered when the Washington Post paid an independent chemist to test AMP for illicit substances. The chemist, Don 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.”
A spokesman for the company that manufactures AMP told the Post that “Geranamine” is legal because it can be found in nature. However, ephedrine, which is also found in nature, was banned after it was linked to several deaths. Furthermore, new dietary ingredients introduced after 1994 must be disclosed to the FDA, and “Geranamine” was never reported to the FDA.
Arnold’s supplements became wildly popular in the years following his imprisonment. By 2012, experts estimated that 200 supplements contained DMAA. The most popular products, Jack3D and OxyElite Pro, were sold by USPLabs and generated millions of dollars in revenue.
By the time the FDA started cracking down on the industry, at least 86 adverse events were reported, including cardiovascular problems (heart attack, stroke, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc.), seizures, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and liver failure.
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