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Supplement linked to soldiers’ deaths

Consumer Reports News: January 06, 2012 04:43 PM

The Department of Defense has ordered on-base stores to temporarily halt the sale of products containing the stimulant dimethylamylamine (DMAA), found in some workout-enhancement and weight loss supplements, which has been linked to reports of death in two service members, a U.S. Army official confirmed yesterday.

“Two soldiers who were using products which contain DMAA suffered cardiac arrest while exercising,” said Col. John Lammie, M.D., director of health policy and services in the Office of the Army Surgeon General. “Both were found to have DMAA in their blood.”

He did not confirm a report in Army Times on Dec. 29 that DMAA might be linked to other incidents of adverse effects, specifically the collapse of three soldiers and two Marines during heavy exercise. However, the U.S. Army Medical Command Public Affairs reported on January 3 that concern centers on "reports of heat illness, kidney and liver damage, and sudden death in service members" who reportedly used products containing DMAA.

“As a precautionary measure only, products containing DMAA were removed from Commissaries and Military Exchanges beginning on December 6,” Lammie said in an e-mail. DMAA is sold alone or in combination with other ingredients, particularly caffeine, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Public Affairs article. The Defense Logistics Agency, which provides medicine, food, and other consumable goods to America’s military forces, described the substance as a central nervous system stimulant and vasoconstrictor. (Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood vessels.)

Greg Miller, a spokesman for GNC, said the company has complied fully with the Army’s request to temporarily remove all 18 DMAA-containing products it sold from its 133 stores on U.S. military bases. But he said that “GNC believes DMAA is safe for consumer use” and continues to sell these products in GNC stores elsewhere and at “GNC has sold 440 million doses of product containing DMAA since 2007,” he said. “We have received one serious adverse event report involving a product containing DMAA during this period.”
“ GNC said it reported the adverse event to the FDA.

It is not known if DMAA resulted in the deaths,” Lammie said. “This is why we are investigating.” The Defense Department’s review of the scientific evidence and adverse event reports is being lead by the Army Public Health Command and the Army Surgeon General's Health Policy and Services directorate. “When the review is completed, DoD leaders will decide whether these products will be released for sale at military installations,” Lammie said.

The Food and Drug Administration had no comment on DMAA. “As a matter of policy, FDA does not comment on the safety, label or labeling, or claims made for products with parties other than the responsible firm during the course of any investigation for regulation action,” a spokeswoman said.

DMAA products pulled from base shelves [Army Times]

Dietary supplements removed from Exchanges due to health concerns [Official Homepage of the United States Army]

Doug Podolsky

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