A day after federal attorneys moved to seize 1,542 cases of exercise enhancement products containing DMAA from a GNC warehouse in Leetsdale, the company issued a statement Friday accusing the Food and Drug Administration of "retaliation."
"DMAA-containing products are widely sold across the country," a GNC Holdings spokesman said in the statement. "Yet, to the best of GNC's knowledge, the FDA has not taken any action against the same products residing in other distributors' warehouses or in any stores throughout the country.
"DMAA-containing products may continue to be sold and/or distributed everywhere in the U.S.," the statement continued. "Given this situation, it is hard to view this action as anything other than a biased agency action against GNC in retaliation for GNC's stance on DMAA."
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney David Hickton's office filed a civil forfeiture action seeking the destruction of products held at the GNC warehouse and marketed as Jack3d and OxyELITE Pro. The products were made by Texas-based USPlabs.
That followed a Wednesday lawsuit by federal attorneys in South Carolina seeking forfeiture of 1,708 cases of the products.
The complaints indicated that DMAA -- short for dimethylamylamine -- had been found by the FDA to be unsafe.
On April 11, the FDA issued a notice that DMAA "can elevate blood pressure and could lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest," especially when combined with caffeine.
The notice said the agency had "86 reports of illnesses and death associated with supplements containing DMAA" adding that was "not proof that the product actually caused the problem."
The FDA declared DMAA's use in supplements to be illegal.
"GNC believes that DMAA is a safe, legal dietary ingredient," according to the company's statement. GNC "has received nothing from [government agencies] that calls into question assurances from the suppliers of the DMAA-containing products that GNC sells that the products are safe."
GNC will keep in the warehouse the cases of product named in the lawsuit, but "will continue to sell through its remaining inventory of the products in its stores." The company added that "current inventory of products in stores will be exhausted within weeks. It is unclear then to GNC why the FDA has initiated this action at this point given DMAA-containing products are no longer being made."
Mr. Hickton's office Friday requested a warrant under which federal marshals could enter the warehouse and take the products.
An FDA spokeswoman declined comment because the matter is in litigation.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.