July 16, 2012 — The two largest dietary supplement retailers in the United States, Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, are still selling products containing DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, or geranium extract/oil) despite growing criticism of the drug. The stimulant drug DMAA technically remains legal, although the FDA has warned manufacturers that the drug is synthetic and therefore not eligible for use in dietary supplements. It is an ingredient in around 200 supplements used to boost energy and decrease appetite, usually right before working out.
The Wall Street Journal asked both GNC and Vitamin Shoppe for comment. GNC stated that the company does not manufacture DMAA, and the products continue to be “widely available at other retailer outlets.” Although Vitamin Shoppe declined to comment for the article, they have previously stated that they will stop selling DMAA products when the FDA issues an official recall.
The U.S. government has not recalled or banned DMAA. It has been banned on military bases, after being found in the bloodstream of two soldiers who died from heart attacks. Other countries (including Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and more) have taken steps to restrict sales. The FDA sent warning letters to 10 manufacturers of DMAA products, and warned consumers that they had received dozens of reports of cardiac disorders, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and death.
The FDA warned the companies that “synthetically-produced DMAA is not a ‘dietary ingredient’ and, therefore, is not eligible to be used as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement.”
GNC and Vitamin Shoppe primarily sell vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements. However, DMAA sales may make up a large portion of each company’s revenue. In securities filings, both companies listed DMAA as one of their best-selling products. Share prices of each company could drop if the government were to ban DMAA.
On many products, DMAA is listed on the ingredient label as “geranium extract,” oil, or derivative of the geranium plant. However, most independent scientists have been unable to find DMAA in samples of the geranium plant. The most recent analysis, published in the journal of Analytical Toxicology, concluded that DMAA is most likely synthetic. The FDA and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) have made similar conclusions.
Although there is little evidence that DMAA qualifies as a dietary supplement, retailers continue to sell the product to unsuspecting customers.
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