When we step through the doors of a retailer, we expect that the representation made to us by that retailer will be trustworthy, and we also expect that retailer to ensure that the products sold in that establishment are safe. However, unfortunately, this does not always turn out to be the case. As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, the well know sports and nutrition retailer, GNC, is now under fire for selling unsafe products, and may possibly be liable for fraud as well as negligence relating to a products liability claim.
The suit was filed by Lynette Bates, a Southern California woman who bought a pre-exercise drink powder called C4 Extreme last summer. The pre-exercise drink promised "explosive workouts." According to a class action lawsuit filed this month in Los Angeles Federal Court, a substance originally created as an over the counter decongestant has been illegally and unsafely sold in widely marketed sports supplements. The compound, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA, is "illegal and dangerous," according to the complaint. The lawsuit also claimed that "experts in the industry have become concerned that this potent stimulant drug will lead to serious health issues and even death."
Bates sued the retailer of the product, GNC, and Cellucor Sports Nutrition, which manufactures, distributes and markets the supplement, for "making false and unsubstantiated representations concerning the efficacy, safety and legality of C4 Extreme," among other claims. Cellucor's parent company, Woodbolt International, is also named in the suit.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune C4 Extreme is no longer manufactured with DMAA. But the substance can still be found in a variety of dietary supplements aimed at boosting physical performance or weight loss, such as Jack3d (pronounced "jacked") and OxyELITE Pro, which are sold online and at retail stores. Medical experts say there are potential health risks from consuming DMAA. "What we've seen is that DMAA in supplements has been connected to situations where the heart has gone suddenly into failure due to excessive stress," said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, GNC declined to comment on the pending litigation, but in an e-mailed statement provided to California Watch, corporate spokesman Greg Miller said that "despite the media hype surrounding DMAA, GNC is unaware of any scientific or medical evidence which calls the safety of DMAA into question. To the contrary, GNC is aware of a number of published, peer-reviewed studies that show that DMAA is perfectly safe when taken as directed."
Harvard's Cohen said the fact that DMAA remains in products on store shelves illustrates the need for increased oversight of dietary and sports supplements by the FDA, which is considering making adjustments to guidelines on new dietary supplement ingredients.
Tamara Ward, an FDA spokeswoman, would not comment on DMAA. In an e-mailed statement, she said: "As a matter of policy, FDA does not comment on the safety, label or labeling, or claims made for products with parties other than the responsible firm during the course of any investigation for regulation action. As with any complaint or concern we receive about FDA-regulated products, we will consider whether a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act has occurred and, if so, whether regulatory action is warranted in light of FDA's enforcement priorities and resources." Ward declined to confirm whether there is an ongoing investigation or review of DMAA.
Regardless of whether the FDA chooses to take the potential danger of this substance seriously, it is my desire, as a Mississippi attorney who had aided many individuals in their pursuit of justice after they have been harmed by a dangerous or defective product, that Ms. Bates receives that compensation that she deserves, and that this dangerous substances is removed from the store shelves.