FDA Warning on Dietary Supplement

Is BMPEA a Serious Health Risk?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters regarding the “speed-like” ingredient BMPEA or beta-methylphenethylamine. BMPEA appears in a number of weight loss and energy products and is often mislabeled as a plant extract or dietary ingredient. BMPEA does not meet the standards to brand a product a “dietary supplement.” The FDA issued warning letters to several companies demanding compliance and distribution to be ceased.

Health Experts Warn About Harmful Effects

This action came after a Harvard Medical School study found that several weight loss and workout enhancement supplements contained this amphetamine-like substance, BMPEA, often labeled as the plant extract Acacia rigidula. Health officials warned about the possible harmful effects of this ingredient two years ago. While BMPEA has been called “a serious health risk” by the Canadian government, the U.S. FDA “does not identify a specific safety concern at this time” for products containing this ingredient. According to Dr. Pieter Cohen, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and dietary supplement expert, the FDA “completely dropped the ball.”

BMPEA is another in the list of other similar chemicals, such as phenylpropanolamine and ephedrine that get added to workout supplements that contain caffeine which already has an effect on the heart and blood pressure. When these supplements are taken and then stimulated by exercise and other cardiovascular stimuli, that is when possible health risks and adverse reactions could occur as suggested in a recent case report.

One of the largest health and fitness supplement retailers in the U.S., Vitamin Shoppe, said it will stop selling all products that reportedly tested positive for BMPEA. Vitamin Shoppe said its move was prompted by a study on the synthetic chemical ingredient. Vitamin Shoppe released a statement saying “the health and safety of our customers is our number one priority, and out of an abundance of caution, we are immediately removing all Acacia rigidula containing products, due to the concern that some of them may contain BMPEA.” Other companies want products to remain in stores and are fighting allegations that BMPEA is unsafe.