According to a new study, even after 2 years since U.S. health regulators identified an amphetamine-like stimulant in diet pills that contain Acacia rigidula, these products are still on the market. The research was published in the Drug Testing and Analysis journal.
The study’s results showed that more than 10 of the 21 brands of pills containing Acacia rigidula also contain a stimulant known as beta-methylphenylethylamine, or BMPEA. The analyzed pills were purchased one year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that these types of supplements contain the amphetamine-like stimulant. The study and its report took another year to complete.
The analyzed products were sold for weight loss, athletic performance and for better brain function. But using BMPEA has resulted in heightened blood pressure and elevated heart rated when administered to cats and dogs. Human trials haven’t been conducted. The World Anti-Doping Agency considers BMPEA a doping agent as it is similar to amphetamines.
FDA spokeswoman, Juliann Putnam, however says that “the available information on products containing BMPEA does not identify a specific safety concern at this time”.
But the study’s lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School considers that the FDA should take some safety measures at once and try to eliminate BMPEA from dietary supplements.
BMPEA isn’t the first amphetamine-like stimulant to have been identified in supplements.
Cohen explains that Acacia rigidula, which is a type of bush that grows in Texas, doesn’t naturally contain BMPEA.
But in 1990, a study indicated that traces of amphetamine could be found in the plant. This information led to the FDA conducting investigations on products containing Acacia rigidula. The agency, however, found no traces of amphetamine or BMPEA in the plant but did identify high levels of synthetic BMPEA.
Cohen considers that:
“Acacia rigidula is code in the industry for a potent synthetic stimulant. They are using the name as a cover.”
The FDA tries to prevent dangerous stimulants from entering the market. In 2004 it withdrew a stimulant known as Ephedra. The agency then eliminated products containing DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract.
In November 2013, the FDA withdrew $2 million worth of products containing DMMA produced by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. Now the company uses Acacia rigidula, describing the substance as “the answer the diet industry has been waiting on for years”.
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