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Athletes warned to avoid potentially dangerous sports nutrition ingredient DMAA

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As consumers embark on a new-year fitness boost, athletes at all levels of sport are being urged to steer clear of the potentially dangerous ingredient DMAA. The warning has been issued by the UK Government’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – as a significant number of products containing DMAA continue to be found on sale in the UK.

DMAA can be found in unlicensed medicines marketed as sports supplements and it has been linked with high blood pressure, tightening in the chest, strokes, heart attacks and even death.

MHRA has launched a ‘Week of Action’ between 30 January and 5 February supported by a number of leading national organisations to alert people to the potential dangers. The week of action aims to improve awareness and will include an animated social media campaign, health & fitness bloggers sharing their stories and a video featuring Team GB Olympic weightlifters at the National Sports Stadium in Crystal Palace.

Individuals who either suspect a product contains DMAA or want to check whether it is present are being encouraged to check online. Those who find products on the market should immediately contact MHRA via the dedicated mailbox dmaa[at]mhra.gsi.gov.uk.

Named on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, DMAA is banned during sports competition and the safety concerns are well documented.

Last year MHRA took urgent action to remove a number of products containing DMAA from the market. Dr Chris Jones, MHRA Medicines Borderline Section Manger said “As always, we will continue to take robust action when unlicensed medicinal products containing DMAA come to our attention.

“We first removed these products from sale in 2012, and will protect public health by continuing to do so. Although the sale of DMAA products has dropped since 2012, any companies selling this unlicensed medicine is one company too many.”

Dr Adam Carey, Chair of ESSNA (the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance) said “We fully support the MHRA’s efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of supplements which contain DMAA. MHRA has classified such products as medicinal products and they have no place in legitimate sports nutrition supplements.

“The dangers of consuming DMAA are significant and well-proven. We urge all sportspeople to avoid it at all costs – and emphasise that sportsmen and women can only do this by making sure they’re only buying their sports supplements from responsible and reputable retailers.”

Nicole Sapstead, UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive said “Any athlete who takes supplements containing DMAA in-competition – either deliberately or inadvertently – is not only risking their career, but is also risking their health. Our advice on supplements is simple – protect yourself and your career by maximising your nutrition, and thoroughly researching any product you are, or are considering, taking.”

Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO said “Weightlifting is a fantastic sport, not least because of the health and wellbeing benefits associated with strength training. However, as with all sports, it is very important that lifters participate in a safe and controlled manner, and are aware of the dangers of taking anything that could be potentially harmful – as has been proven with DMAA.

“We are proud to support this campaign and hope that it encourages lifters that wish to use sports supplements to choose only those that are properly regulated, and remain well-informed about the dangers of using unlicensed medicines.”

This ‘Week of Action’ is part of the FakeMeds campaign aimed at young adults and highlights the pitfalls of buying unlicensed medicines online.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring that they work and are acceptably safe. MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which also includes NIBSC and CPRD. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is an executive agency of the UK Government’s Department of Health.

The MHRA first classified a product containing DMAA to be medicinal products in 2012. The MHRA has since determined a number of products which contain DMAA to be medicinal products and may not be placed on the UK market without the appropriate authorisation.

DMAA is regarded as being capable of significant modification to human physiology. Products containing DMAA have already been subject to regulatory controls in various countries around the world following a series of suspected links to serious adverse effects.

Products containing DMAA have already been subject to regulatory controls in various countries around the world following a series of suspected links to serious adverse effects. It is the MHRA’s view that the uncontrolled sale and supply of products containing DMAA poses potential risks to public safety.

MHRA has been working with British Weightlifting, UK Anti-Doping, ESSNA, UK Active, National Food Crime Unit (FSA) and Sporting Integrity Ltd for the DMAA ‘Week of Action.

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