The Ups and Downs of Caffeine – FDA to Get Tough?

We know that there are a number of approved products that contain caffeine.  Some are pain medications where it is used as an adjuvant to improve pain relief.  It is used as an approved injection and oral solution for treatment of apnea in infants.  It is regulated in foods (particularly in beverages like soda) and is available in certain OTC products, like No-Doz, for help in restoring mental alertness from fatigue in low controlled doses.  But now, as noted in a recent article by the Associated Press found on Yahoo health (here), the FDA is gearing up for a legal battle to reduce the availability of caffeine powder being sold as a dietary supplement.   As explained in the article referenced above, the product can be deadly and symptoms of caffeine overdose and toxicity can include “rapid or erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation.”

The FDA is developing a legal and regulatory strategy for dealing with this product.  One would think that, after the death of at least one teenager in Ohio,  those that are selling the product would rethink their actions.  Caffeine is a stimulant and can be fatal, even in small doses.  The problem with the availability of pure caffeine powder is that those that use the product may not be aware of its powerful effects.  This may be especially problematic for the young, elderly or for those with cardiac problems or hypertension.

It will be interesting to see the FDA’s legal approach and how fast it is articulated but expect FDA enforcement action to be swift before too many more users are injured.