Parents blame nutritional supplement for son’s death. They have filed a suit against the company and distributor for failure to warn of risks.
Michael Lee Sparling, was a 22-year-old Army private when he died. But he wasn’t killed by a roadside bomb or an ambush in Afghanistan. He collapsed while running in formation for about 10 minutes with his unit at Fort Bliss, Tex., went into cardiac arrest and died later that day, on June 1, 2011.
Private Sparling had recently graduated from basic training and was in excellent physical condition. Before the exercise, he had taken the recommended dose of a workout supplement called Jack3d, bought at a GNC store on the base, according to legal filings.
Pronounced “jacked,” as in “jacked up,” Jack3d contains a powerful stimulant called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA for short, which some medical experts and health regulators say has similar effects on the body as amphetamines. Among bodybuilders and in the fitness-obsessed culture of the military, Jack3d has acquired a reputation for bolstering workout energy and stamina. The product description on the GNC Web site promises as much: “ultra-intense muscle-gorging strength, energy, power and endurance.”
It’s not clear if the substance can be linked to or found to be a contributing factor to the man’s death which is not unlike the recent deaths supposedly connected to other energy drinks. The stimulant, DMAA, does have a history of being banned from other countries and the American Medical Association has advised against its use. Another problem here is that they claim the maker failed to warn of risks. Would that have mattered? Legally, perhaps, but people take untested and potentially unsafe drugs all the time to get an edge. These types of supplements are regulated POORLY. They do not need to have adequate testing done to show that they work and they are not taken off the market until something bad happens to alert the public of a potential problem. The retailers are not held responsible.
Under a 1994 federal law, supplement makers must submit some kind of safety data to the F.D.A. if they plan to introduce new ingredients to the market. And manufacturing-practice rules require them to make sure their products contain only the ingredients listed on the labels, with no hidden substances. But, unlike drug makers, supplement makers are not required to prove that their products are safe and effective on humans. Nor do they have to get federal approval before selling their products. That means it is up to the F.D.A. to identify any risky supplements from among the estimated 85,000 on the market, and to prove that they are adulterated or present health hazards.
Americans spend billions on supplement without knowing they may not work or they may not be safe for them. GNC promotes an image of wellness and promotes these products. There is significant money to be made. There is blame to spread thick ALL around.
This is a long piece and highlights the need for reform in the dietary supplements business and the lucrative market for them. People do not know what they are getting.