July 17, 2013 at 2:03 PM ET
Dietary supplements are a fast-growing, multi-billion dollar industry which critics say is under-regulated. Concerns about supplement safety were underscored Tuesday when the Food and Drug Administration said USPlabs had voluntarily destroyed more than $8 million worth of its sports nutrition products after pressure to remove the so-called "natural" stimulants from stores.
The FDA had issued warning letters last year to 11 companies marketing supplements with the ingredient DMAA, also known as methylhexanamine or geranium extract, asking them to stop selling the products. Most of the other companies stopped distributing supplements with the ingredient, but the Dallas-based USPlabs had continued.
Finally, under pressure from the FDA and consumers, the company agreed to stop manufacturing the dietary supplements -- sold as OxyElite Pro and Jack3d and used by fitness fans looking for an extra boost in the gym -- and destroy its inventory.
In April, the FDA warned consumers that products containing DMAA were dangerous, after reports of six deaths and more than 100 cases of serious side effects linked to the controversial supplements. DMAA, can cause elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath, heart attack and death, according to the FDA.
NBC's chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman warned on TODAY Wednesday that products containing DMAA could still be on store shelves, so it’s important to read labels carefully.
“Anything that says geranium extract or DMAA, take it to the register and tell them to throw it away,” Snyderman said Wednesday. “For heaven’s sake, don’t buy it. This doesn’t have any benefit.”
"The supplement industry doesn’t have the same rigorous bar that pharmaceutical companies have to go through, so when you buy something from your local health food store it may help, it may not help and it could hurt you,” she said.
NBC News reached out to USPlabs for comment, but the company has yet to provide a statement.