Study: Diet supplement has meth-like chemical
October 14th, 2013
01:42 PM ET

Study: Diet supplement has meth-like chemical

Update (Tuesday 11:30 a.m. ET) - Driven Sports attorney Marc Ullman says Driven Sports suspended the production and sales of Craze several months ago while it investigated reports regarding the safety of Craze; the company does not currently have plans to resume production.

Less than a week after health officials asked stores to pull a fat-burning supplement from shelves, another dietary supplement is coming under fire.

Craze, a sports supplement marketed to bodybuilders, contains a chemical compound similar to the illegal drug methamphetamine, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed Drug Testing and Analysis journal. The substance, called N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine or N,a-DEPEA, has never been studied in humans, according to Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.

Scientists tested three Craze samples from three different suppliers, according to the study. They found N,a-DEPEA in all three - about 20 to 35 milligrams of the drug in a serving size of the supplement. These dosages suggest it was "not a minor contaminant resulting from the manufacturing process," the study authors wrote.

N,a-DEPEA is a methamphetamine analog, Cohen said, or a "cousin" to meth. Scientists first discovered the new drug approximately three years ago in South Korea.

"Criminal-chemists start with a known drug - in this case methamphetamine, then in their factor they start making little changes to it," Cohen explained in an e-mail. "Here, they pop a few extra carbon and hydrogen molecules onto it. But the main structure/backbone/skeleton of the drug remains the same."

Craze labels list a different chemical, N,N-DEPEA, as an ingredient, Cohen said, but researchers did not find that substance in the supplement. He said it was unlikely that Craze's manufacturer, Driven Sports, was directly responsible for altering the chemical structure of the drug. The company may have purchased the substance in bulk from a distributor that claimed it was all natural, Cohen said.

Craze was given BodyBuilding.com's New Supplement of the Year award in 2012. Driven Sports attorney Marc Ullman said the company adamantly disputes the researchers' findings and believes there are serious flaws with the tests they ran.

"Craze is a legal supplement that provides people with a tool to enhance their workouts, by combining natural extracts to increase their energy," Driven Sports said in a statement. "Craze conforms to all U.S. federal regulatory requirements and is proven safe when used as directed... Driven Sports has commissioned extensive testing of Craze from a reputable, independent laboratory, which conclusively establishes that the product does not contain any illegal stimulants."

One of the samples used in the study was sent to the Food and Drug Administration last year; the study authors' conclusions were sent to the FDA in May. While the FDA is in charge of regulating dietary supplements, manufacturers and distributors are not required to get FDA approval before selling their products.

NSF International, a public health organization involved in the study, also found N,a-DEPEA in a different manufacturer's supplement, Cohen said. Gaspari Nutrition's Detonate seems to have been removed from the company's website and is no longer available on Amazon or other sellers' sites.

This isn't the first time Driven Sports' products have come under scrutiny. In July, USA Today published an investigative piece on supplement designer Matt Cahill, "a convicted felon who has a history of selling risky dietary supplements, including products with ingredients linked to severe liver injury and at least one death," the newspaper says.

soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. Suzy

    I have worked with a lot of former drug addicts and its no secret that there are diet supplements and energy pills that give off some of the same effects as meth. Countless addicts have kicked the habit only to start taking these things because they're legal and close to the same speedish high.

    October 14, 2013 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • That's just crazy talk

      Nonsense, I worked in the sports nutrition industry for a decade and they are nothing like you describe.

      October 15, 2013 at 00:09 | Report abuse |
    • Just Me

      Sales will skyrocket, now that they published this.

      October 15, 2013 at 03:37 | Report abuse |
    • jake

      That doesn't sound at all accurate.

      October 22, 2013 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  2. Jack N Meovslo

    I like corn on the cob.

    October 14, 2013 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sudafed DeadHead

      I like Sudafed.

      October 15, 2013 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Franks and beans!

      October 15, 2013 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
    • Just me

      I love Lamp

      October 15, 2013 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  3. staticcandy

    I hardly think this is any sort of "news"... It just took us what 20 years to put two and two together?....

    October 14, 2013 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sarah

    Body builders looking to take illegal drugs, now there is no surprise!

    October 14, 2013 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Uaware?

      Shut it sloot.

      October 15, 2013 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • The Amazing Juan

      There's stereotyping at its finest. I bet all hispanics love rice and beans too, right?

      October 16, 2013 at 08:38 | Report abuse |
    • dennis39828

      You are an idiot http://youareanidiot.org/

      October 19, 2013 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
  5. Skeptic

    I've been eating Craze for 3 straight days now, with no side effects. Except for these ants crawling all over my skin. Get them off me! GET THEM OFF ME!

    October 14, 2013 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. smartaz

    You don't see fat meth-heads.

    October 14, 2013 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Makahai

      I see alot of chemically addicted people with sores, they look like the walking dead, sad days for anyone
      addicted to any kind of chemical!!

      October 15, 2013 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      What would you expect when the majority of meth is made in sanitary garages using anything from kerosine to wood alcohol as reagents to distill meth!

      October 16, 2013 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  7. mike

    The name itself is all the clue you need.

    October 15, 2013 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Pete

    I'll never understand people's desires to kill themselves with nasty substances. Just eat a healthy diet and exercise and you won't need "supplements";

    October 15, 2013 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      That won't get you to the next level though. It might get you to a secret bonus level, but you can't defeat the bad guys without serious help like Craze.

      October 15, 2013 at 01:55 | Report abuse |
  9. Trance

    ""Here, they pop a few extra carbon and hydrogen molecules onto it." ... hmm, he must have meant atoms. The study is at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dta.1578/abstract

    Wondering why cancer is so prevalent in US...you are what you eat. And no, there is no cure for cancer no matter what media tells you. To cure cancer means to be reborn again so that all the damaged tissues in various parts of the body get back to the physiological plateau we're meant to preserve for most of your healthy lives.

    October 15, 2013 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Does not matter

      Absolutely there are many cures for cancer.

      There is no medical cure becuase they don't want one. Cancer research and treatment is multi-billion dollar business.

      Also Vitamin D prevents many types of cancer but they tell people to take 400 I.U. a day when most people need 5,000-10,000 I.U.

      Also Dr. Burzynski (look for the movie) has been curing cancer for 20 years. Other people have cured it with Baking Soda and alkalizing t he body and others with H2O2 therapy. And that's a just few of them. My Unke cured his cancer with Hemp Oil.

      October 15, 2013 at 03:00 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Are you both serious?

      October 15, 2013 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
  10. Syndrome Zed

    Did a Harvard professor of medicine *really* call carbon and hydrogen "molecules" in his email? Really? Because that's just sad, if he wasn't misquoted.

    October 15, 2013 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Smithers

      So you think they just stuck 1 carbon on one end and 1 hydrogen atom on the other? The professor was obviously talking about a molecule consisting of 1 carbon atom and at least 3 Hydrogen atoms to form a group. CH4 is known as a hydrocarbon. You can't just stick one atom on the end and be done with it. The full octet rule has to be satisfied. It shows extreme ignorance and stupidity when someone thinks they know what they are talking about when they don't and criticize someone who is obviously a subject matter expert in his field.

      October 15, 2013 at 01:08 | Report abuse |
    • Philip Paradis

      You just failed high school chemistry. Carbon is virtually never found in its atomic state in nature, but instead is found in various allotropes which are molecular in nature. The same applies to hydrogen, which exists in a naturally diatomic (molecular) state. Please educate yourself before you post again.

      October 15, 2013 at 01:25 | Report abuse |
  11. allen

    so when it comes to abortion the usual response from CNN is "its my body ill do what I want"....but sports supplements seem to be on the hit list lately. Silly democrats.

    October 15, 2013 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laughing

      Out Loud

      October 15, 2013 at 01:21 | Report abuse |
  12. Richard

    The American supplement industry pushes the same snake oil and medical quackery that patent medicine people did 100 years ago. "Natural" is one buzzword they use to convince dimwits there are no chemicals in it. Guess what clods? EVERYTHING is made of chemicals!

    October 15, 2013 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave


      October 15, 2013 at 10:39 | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    It's worth it though!

    October 15, 2013 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Walter

    Oftentimes, products like this have to say that the FDA hasn't confirmed the claims of the product. I guess users need to be more concerned about the contents than the claims.

    October 15, 2013 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Internet User

    Calling this a "meth-like chemical" is a little over-dramatic. The stuff in Sudafed or Vick's Inhalers is chemically closer to meth than this stuff is.

    October 15, 2013 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Cristina

    And if I go to a "doctor" and say I have a backache, I can get legal heroin. What's your point, CNN?

    October 15, 2013 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jack

    This is silly . Drugs like xanax do more harm .

    October 15, 2013 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jrad

    I lost 38 pounds in only one week!

    October 15, 2013 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Conscience of a Conservative

    90% of supplements are junk. even worse, untested junk. money on supplements would be better spent on fresh fruits and vegetables or clothing to exercise outdoors. I thought we got rid of the snake oil salesmen of the 19th century, but apparently not.

    October 15, 2013 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. LiveLite

    Proper supplementation, high quality that is, is SMART! Our food is nutritionally void. Another words, the food we consume today is not what grandma and grandpa ate, and what their parents ate. Everyone should fill in the gaps with nutritional supplementation but the key in doing so is knowing the source and quality. I only trust one supplementation company as it's backed by strong science and has an impressive medical advisory board as well. In addition, they've got the Informed-Choice endorsement as well which is HUGE in the supplementation world for safety and that's the reason hundreds of professional as well as world class champion athletes use the AdvoCare products. Visit http://www.livinglitellc.com to learn more.

    October 16, 2013 at 07:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. ilikesquirrels

    NSF International, a public health organization involved in the study, also found N,a-DEPEA in a different manufacturer's supplement, Cohen said. Gaspari Nutrition's Detonate seems to have been removed from the company's website and is no longer available on Amazon or other sellers' sites.

    Seems like a lie if you can still find it ON AMAZON itself:


    October 17, 2013 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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  23. Charity

    Herbals, vitamins and dietary supplements have real effects on our bodies, both good and bad, similar to prescription medications. For this reason, they should be used with the same caution as starting a new medication. In my opinion, the real lesson here is to use supplements sparingly, as a addition to diet and exercise. Also, be sure to see your physician for a complete physical and to discuss any over the counter medicine or supplement before adding it to your regimen.
    Dietary supplements, when used in moderation and under a doctor's supervision, can be a great addition to one's health regimen. Unfortunately, because supplements do no require a prescription, many individuals fall victim to the false belief that they must be safe to use simply because they're easily accessible.

    October 18, 2013 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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  31. Wiegraf

    Man that is crazy! I never buy in to all of the supplement hype. Most of them are garbage anyway! i do take fish oil though.

    March 23, 2014 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wiegraf

      heres a great resource for chooseing quality supplements: http://www.fishoilfacts.net May as well post a real resource here.

      March 23, 2014 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
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