Better known by its initials, GNC, General Nutrition Corporation is a Pittsburgh-based company that sells vitamins, supplements, and other wellness-related products.
Recently, the company was named a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Attorney General. The lawsuit claims GNC knowingly sold supplements and vitamins that contained illegal and dangerous substances. The suit also says GNC deliberately left these ingredients off its labels.
Controversial Amphetamine-Like Substances
The lawsuit claims GNC sold diet pills and other products containing harmful ingredients that are banned in the United States. According to the complaint, certain GNC products contained picamilon, a synthetic neurotransmitter that is legal in other countries but is not approved for sale in the U.S. In November 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent five warning letters to companies whose products contained picamilon.
The lawsuit also claims GNC sold products spiked with BMPEA, an isomer of amphetamine that goes by a variety of names, including R-beta-methylphenethylamine. Amphetamines are stimulants that can decrease appetite and stimulate the central nervous system. They are also highly addictive and can have an adverse effect on an individual’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other functions.
Created in a lab in the 1930s, the substance was abandoned by researchers after they observed elevated heart rates in animals used to test the drug. Although some supplement manufacturers list it as a “natural substance,” the FDA insists it is completely synthetic and, in most cases, dangerous. In early 2015, a healthy 53-year-old woman suffered a stroke while exercising. While investigating her case, researchers learned she had been taking a supplement that contained BMPEA.
In April 2015, the FDA warned five companies about eight products listing BMPEA as an ingredient. The warning letters gave the companies 15 days to notify the FDA what steps they will take to remove the substance from its products.