A study led by Harvard researcher Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, published in the journal of Drug Testing and Analysis, found that a number of Acacia rigidula dietary supplements, used for weight loss and exercise enhancement, continue to contain a chemical known as BMPEA, which is almost identical in composition to amphetamine.
In Canada, supplements with the chemical were removed from store shelves this past December and noted as a “serious health risk”; in the States, however, BMPEA remains present in vitamin shops all over the country.
Furthermore, the independent study has found, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue recalls or even public health alerts to consumers, despite being urged to do so by a number of public health experts. That’s because, the study contends, powerful regulators in the agency are themselves leaders of supplement trade groups and lobbying powers.
From The New York Times:
“Daniel Fabricant, who ran the agency’s division of dietary supplement programs from 2011 to 2014, had been a senior executive at that trade group, the Natural Products Association, which has spent millions of dollars lobbying to block new laws that would hold supplement makers to stricter standards. He left the FDA last year and returned to the association as its chief executive. His current replacement at the FDA’s supplement division also comes from the trade group.”
Eleven out of 21 products were found to contain BMPEA in the independent study, compared to the FDA’s identification of nine such products, which it did not release to the public. The agency is continuing, Dr. Cohen thinks, to wait on evidence that BMPEA is causing direct harm.
“If they wait long enough, I suspect they will have that level of evidence to remove it from the market,” Cohen told the Times.