Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Study: weight-loss supplements contain amphetamine-like ingredients
April 7, 2015
Study: weight-loss supplements contain amphetamine-like ingredients
A handful of weight-loss and sports supplements contain a never-before-tested ingredient that’s closely related to amphetamines – not the plant extract indicated on their label, according to a Harvard-led study published online today by the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. The products, sold under names like JetFuel T-300, Fastin-XR and Black Widow, contain chemicals similar to amphetamines, which can trigger stroke, heart attack or even death, said Pieter Cohen, the lead researcher and an assistant professor atHarvard Medical School. Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Norcross, Ga., which makes many of the questionable products and uses the motto “found in nature, backed by science,” did not return several phone calls. The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington, DC-based trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, described the problem products as a “very small sliver of the industry,” and agreed with Cohen that the faulty labeling and inclusion of the chemical is unacceptable. Both Cohen, also an internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, and the trade group blame the US Food and Drug Administration for not cracking down on companies that sell the mislabeled and potentially dangerous products. “The FDA absolutely has the authority and they should be going after products like this, said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. “This has no business in the marketplace.” More than a year ago, scientists with the US Food and Drug Administration concluded that products labeled as having Acacia rigidula, a perennial shrub found in south Texas and Mexico, instead contained a synthetic chemical cousin to amphetamines, called β-methylphenylethylamine or BMPEA. The government has not taken any formal action against the products since, but released a statement Friday emphasizing its concern for public safety. “The FDA’s first priority with regard to dietary supplements is ensuring safety,” the statement read. “While our review of the available information on products containing BMPEA does not identify a specific safety concern at this time, the FDA will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers.” The response has been stronger in other countries. A British official sent a letter in March 2014 declaring that Acacia rigidula does not meet European safety standards and could not be used as a supplement ingredient. And just before Christmas, the Canadian government recalled a product called JetFuel Superburn, distributed by Empire Health Distribution of Terrebonne, Quebec, because it contained “two undeclared amphetamine-like drug substances that pose serious health risks,” including BMPEA. Last week, 14 attorneys general, led by New York, asked Congress to launch a wide-ranging investigation of the supplements industry and to give the FDA more authority to regulate it. Unlike medications, which require years of careful study, supplements are subject to much less safety research, and ingredient potency and quantity can vary widely. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also gone after stores that sell supplements, such as Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC, holding them responsible for the safety and proper labeling of their products. GNC has agreed to hold its house products to higher standards of accuracy and safety. Consumers, Cohen said, are victims of their own optimism, believing that a dietary supplement can help them safely lose weight. “I think a weight loss pill could work and be safe,” he said. “We’re just not there yet.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/07/weight-loss-supplements-amphetamines-sports/25380525/