- Oregon's Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, is suing the dietary supplement giant GNC for allegedly selling supplements made with picamilon and BMPEA—both unapproved drugs.
- This is not the first problem that GNC has had with this issue. In March, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman investigated GNC's Herbal Plus products. As a result, GNC pledged to be more rigorous about its product testing.
- Although GNC vigorously contested Rosenblum's allegations, once the FDA got involved, the company pulled all products containing either picamilon or BMPEA off the shelves.
The stock was down and as of now is staying down on news of a state-initiated lawsuit. On Thursday, it closed down 14% to $34.50.
The two ingredients in question are not only unapproved, but untested under FDA-approved conditions—and therefore potentially dangerous. First, there's picamilon, which is a Russian neurological drug, and there's BMPEA, a synthetic drug that is similar to an amphetamine. BMPEA dates back to the 1930s, yet despite the fact that it's an 85-year-old drug, it's never been tested.
This does not bode well for GNC, which has more than 8,000 stores in 50 countries. It also highlights another issue: Although the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, such as vitamins and sports nutrition products or other natural enhancement products, companies are required to evaluate the purity, strength, and composition of their products. The problem is that although GNC did not manufacture the products with the illegal ingredients, it did allow adulterated products to be sold.
Given the fact that lack of government oversight has led to a large number of adulterated products, as well as ongoing problems associated with dietary supplement purveyors, it may be time for more regulatory oversight of the dietary supplements industry.