“We received a number of reports from doctors and hospitals including someone whose heart stopped beating so it was serious enough to take the product out of the web shops where it was being sold,” Barbara van der Rest, spokesperson at the Netherlands Food and Consumer Products Safety Authority (NVWA) told us.
The NVWA works under the Dutch Health and Economics Ministries and is charged with enforcing food law including food supplements.
Van der Rest said the supplement manufactured by Californian firm iForce Nutrition was under lab analysis to determine the exact cause of the problem, but it took immediate action due to the number and severity of the adverse reactions reported since March this year. 10 websites removed the products.
“All the products were being sold in web shops and we have told them to remove the products. This whole trade needs to be stopped but it can be difficult to control what is sold on the internet.”
“We are monitoring certain websites but we need signals like the ones we received from various parties on this occasion.”
Dexaprine, which contains a proprietary blend as well as green tea, acacia and citrus extracts and caffeine, remains widely on-sale via the internet in many countries including the US and UK.
A spokesperson for Gezondheids Winkel, the biggest online retailer of food supplements in the Netherlands, told us it had never sold Dexaprine and not been warned by the NVWA about products it has sold for more than five years (then over EU novel foods problems).
Saskia Geurtes, the director of Dutch food supplements association, NPN, said iForce Nutrition was not a member of its group, welcomed the enforcement action and called for more.
“We have no association with this company and don’t count online retailers as members but there are a lot of bad things happening on the internet and so we always are glad at this kind of enforcement action,” she said.
Guertes called on greater resources to be made available to the likes of NVWA to beef up its enforcement activities.
“We self-regulate but something has to be done with the internet providers,” she said. “The whole food supplements sector suffers when these kinds of things happen. We need a better internet approach.”
The NVWA posted its warning on the popular Dutch news aggregation site, www.nu.nl which saw it widely picked up in the mainstream Dutch media last week, further amplifying the supplement security issue.
Other Dexaprine-related health issues reported by the Dutch National Poisons Information Centre (NVIC) included chest pain, nausea and headaches.
OK in the UK
In the UK, neither the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), nor the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which polices food supplements, has taken any action despite the January death of a 20-year-old woman said to have overdosed on Dexaprine.
An MHRA spokesperson said the agency would look into the situation after the Dutch actions.
UK online retailer Predator Nutrition sells a 60 tablet box of Dexaprine for £34.99 (€40.93).
It describes the product as, “our most popular stimulant-based fat burner and the most potent fat burner available on the market. Nothing else works quite like Dexaprine.”
“Taken first thing on a morning, it will suppress appetite and gives a burst of energy for the whole day, providing the drive needed to complete a great workout whether before or after a long day at work.”