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Supplement maker, GNC sued in PT death

Feb. 27, 2013 - 07:34AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 27, 2013 - 07:34AM  |  
The parents of a Fort Bliss, Texas-based soldier who died after taking the workout booster Jack3d are suing USPlabs and GNC for wrongful death, saying the product was misrepresented as safe and effective when it has potentially dangerous side effects.
The parents of a Fort Bliss, Texas-based soldier who died after taking the workout booster Jack3d are suing USPlabs and GNC for wrongful death, saying the product was misrepresented as safe and effective when it has potentially dangerous side effects. (Gannett Government Media Corp)
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The parents of a Fort Bliss, Texas-based soldier who died after taking the workout booster Jack3d are suing USPlabs and GNC for wrongful death, saying the product was misrepresented as safe and effective when it has potentially dangerous side effects.

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The parents of a Fort Bliss, Texas-based soldier who died after taking the workout booster Jack3d are suing USPlabs and GNC for wrongful death, saying the product was misrepresented as safe and effective when it has potentially dangerous side effects.

Michael and Leanne Sparling of Rio Linda, Calif., said they believe Jack3d, which contains the controversial ingredient DMAA, contributed to the death of their son, Pvt. Michael Sparling, 22, who died while participating in unit physical training June 1, 2011.

USPlabs did not reply to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

A spokesman for GNC said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The death of Sparling and another soldier during a PT test, also at Fort Bliss in 2011, prompted the Defense Department to remove supplements containing 1,3-dimethylamylamine from on-base stores.

A link between the deaths and DMAA, also referred to as geranium extract or geranium, has not been proven.

DMAA has been implicated in the cases of three soldiers and two Marines who collapsed during heavy exercise, as well as the death last April of a 30-year-old woman during the London Marathon.

In late 2011, the Army launched a safety review of products containing DMAA and a study to determine its effects on the human body.

It has not released results from either review.

In removing DMAA products from store shelves, DoD stopped short of saying DMAA played a role in any of the deaths or health problems.

"DoD has asked that the products be pulled from the shelves as a precautionary measure," DoD said at the time.

The Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters in April to companies marketing products containing synthetic DMAA saying that they were selling supplements containing an unproven ingredient that is actually a chemical, not a dietary supplement.

In July, the FDA noted it had received 42 reports of adverse events associated with DMAA consumption.

In February, USPlabs paid $2 million to settle a class-action suit alleging the company made false and misleading claims about products that contained DMAA, including OxyElite Pro and Jack3d.

In settling the suit, the company denied liability.

USPlabs now offers a non-DMAA version of Jack3d, called Jack3d Micro. OxyElite Pro and the original formulation of Jack3d still can be purchased at some supplement stores and on the Internet.

According to the Sparlings' suit, Michael Sparling died from cardiac arrest after experiencing hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis.

The FDA has said DMAA can cause constriction of veins and arteries, potentially causing an increase in blood pressure and shortness of breath and increasing the risk of heart attack.

The Jack3d label advises users to consult a physician before using the supplement if they also take any prescription or over-the-counter medications. It advises users not to take it up to two weeks before surgery and to discontinue use if they experience an adverse reaction, although the label doesn't describe what constitutes an adverse reaction.

Instead, the "black box warning" on the front of the label tells users Jack3d "may produce an intense sensation of focus, energy and awareness" and "its key ingredients may allow for workout domination."

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