GNC and Jack3d supplement company sued for man’s death

Parents blame nutritional supplement for son’s death. They have filed a suit against the company and distributor for failure to warn of risks.

Workout Supplement Challenged After Death of Soldier – NYTimes.com.

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.

  5 comments for “GNC and Jack3d supplement company sued for man’s death

  1. RDW
    March 18, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Several years ago I worked 3rd shift stocking shelves at a grocery store, and started drinking a bottled herbal drink that contained Ma Huang and Yohimbe. Both are rather strong stimulants. My blood pressure shot up and I developed insomnia. I actually had to see a doctor. I’d highly NOT recommend any product that contained them. I have, though, had good experiences with Valerian. As an occasional sufferer of stress related headaches, it seems to do the trick for me, with seemingly no bad side effects. Chamomile tea is also seemingly very safe, and seems to relieve stress as well as the occasional upset stomach. I agree that many of those weird concoctions on the market are dangerous and should be avoided and be much more strictly regulated or taken off the market completely.

  2. Halidom
    March 18, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    I live in Australia so I don’t know if this is the same in America. Here the supplements you buy are not
    even checked for strength. If you buy 1mg calcium tablets you really have no way to find out what is actually in the tablet. That goes for all the supplement tablets so if your taking something that could have an adverse reaction to some other drug or supplement you’re taking at certain doses you’re in the dark. Calcium seems harmless except at certain doses it can increase or decrease the effect of actual medication that may be important to your well being. I’m not saying that what you get is not what is advertised. I’m just saying that any big business will find a way to increase profits. Not pointing fingers but some of those company’s are huge.

  3. LREKing
    March 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Anyone looking through bodybuilding magazines will see page after page of ads for such supplements. Many of them, if not containing actual banned substances, contain analogues that haven’t been banned or even well tested.

    Like anything else, the effects on a given individual are unpredictable. Anyone taking these is doing so at his own risk and should know that.

  4. Peebs
    March 18, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Doesn’t this show up on the Random Compulsory Drug testing?
    This side of the Pond all service personnel have to have them. I’m sure the U.S. Military have much the same policy.

  5. Halidom
    March 18, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    I imagine they do have random drug test but they tend to be looking for specific drugs. Most supplements would not be found. Even if they were they are probably not on any banned substance list. It takes a case like the soldier who died for them to do an investigation into the safety of the supplement. With so many over the counter supplements available they are fighting an uphill battle.

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