Earlier this month the agency warned five companies to stop selling dietary supplements containing a stimulant known as beta-methylphenylethylamine, or BMPEA, which is often hidden in supplements containing Acacia rigidula.
The FDA actions come amid pressure from lawmakers and a Harvard University academic, Dr. Pieter Cohen, who has been studying the presence of synthetic stimulants in supplements.
“This is extremely welcome news,” Cohen said. “Rather than waiting until heart attacks, strokes or deaths are definitely linked to this new designer stimulant, the FDA has now made it extremely clear to manufacturers that there is no justification to sell DMBA in supplements.”
Last year Cohen published a study showing DMBA was present in 12 supplements marketed to improve athletic performance, increase weight loss and enhance brain function. He also pointed out that products containing BMPEA were still on the market a year after FDA researchers discovered the stimulant in Acacia rigidula supplements.
DMBA and BMPEA are similar to 1,3-dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, which has already been banned by the FDA.
The FDA banned a stimulant known as ephedra in 2004. Since then, companies have tried to replace it with other stimulants purported to be natural.
“On closer review these ‘natural’ stimulants have turned out to be nothing other than new, untested drugs,” Cohen said.