A new study has found that many diet pills and sports supplements have an amphetamine-like compound that has never been tested in humans.
Known as BMPEA, the substance — which is similar to amphetamine, named “speed” when used as an illegal drug — is found in products that claim to contain Acacia rigidula, which is a plant that is found in Texas, when in fact that the substance can only be produced synthetically and is not listed on labels, according to a Los Angeles Times report. BMPEA carries unknown health risks.
The study was published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis on Tuesday, and it takes the Food and Drug Administration to task for discovering BMPEA in supplements back in 2013 but not warning customers or doing anything about it. The study urges the FDA to take “aggressive enforcement action” and warn consumers immediately, the study said.
One of the study’s authors, Harvard Medical School assistant professor Pieter Cohen, called the FDA’s lack of action “completely inexcusable,” according to the Times report.
While the FDA acknowledged that it researched BMPEA in Acacia rigidula supplements in 2013, the agency did not identify a specific safety concern at that time, but the FDA may make a move on the substance in the future, the report stated.
At least one manufacturer, Vitacost.com, has pledged to the Times that it would pull all BMPEA products from its website, although there is not yet evidence to indicate that the ingredient is harmful.
Acacia rigidula is a species of small shrub or tree that is native to Texas. Its range stretches into central Mexico. Blackbrush Acacia is often used in weight loss dietary supplements because it contains adrenergic anime, which are believed to stimulate beta-receptors and increase metabolism. However, more than half of supplements that are labeled to contain Acacia rigidula were found to contain BMPEA.