DEPEA in Supplements

In October 2013, researchers from NSF International, Harvard Medical School and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands published an article in Drug Testing and Analysis describing the public health implications of an emerging and potentially harmful substance found in a dietary supplement sold in stores and online.

The Research

The substance, called N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine (N,a-DEPEA), has a structure similar to methamphetamine and was found in an over-the-counter dietary supplement product called Craze (marketed by Driven Sports, Inc.). Additionally, the substance (N,a-DEPEA) was not disclosed on the label. The substance was found as part of a collaborative testing project conducted by scientists at NSF International, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (NIPHE) in the Netherlands.

This collaborative testing project was developed in response to several failed urine drug tests by professional athletes after taking Craze. After extensive testing and a review of the product’s label at NSF International’s laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, scientists at NSF International, HMS and NIPHE confirmed that while the substance N,N-diethylphenylethylamine was listed on the label, N,a-DEPEA, an emerging and potentially harmful designer stimulant, was found in the product. A review of this substance shows that N,a-DEPEA is likely less potent than methamphetamine but greater than ephedrine.

The ingredient listed on the label of Driven Sport’s Craze product, N,N-diethylphenylethylamine, was alleged to be a constituent of dendrobium orchid extract, but this claim cannot be confirmed. After an extensive search of the scientific literature, NSF International, HMS and NIPHE scientists did not find any evidence to support the claim that N,N-diethylphenylethylamine or any phenylethylamines (PEAs) are constituents of dendrobium orchid extract.

In separate testing, NSF International scientists also detected N,a-DEPEA in a different supplement called Detonate by Gaspari Nutrition.

What You Should Do

We urge consumers to remain vigilant about the dietary supplement products they choose, especially since products similar to Craze and Detonate may still be available in stores and online. We encourage you to look for certification as a sign that the product has been tested and certified to be free of harmful levels of contaminants. This assures consumers that what is on the dietary supplement label is in the package and that the product does not contain unsafe levels of contaminants.

Dietary Supplement Certification

NSF International helped develop the only American National Standard for dietary supplements (NSF/ANSI 173). NSF’s accredited dietary supplement certification program is based on this standard (ANSI-Accredited Product Certification Body - Accreditation #0216). The program includes a label and formulation review, testing to verify the supplement does not contain harmful levels of contaminants and two facility audits annually to confirm compliance to good manufacturing practices (GMPs). Products certified to the stringent NSF Certified for Sport® program include additional steps to screen supplements for more than 270 athletic banned substances.

NSF International’s dietary supplement and Certified for Sport® certification programs help retailers, consumers and athletes to make more educated buying decisions knowing that what is on the label matches what is in the container and that the products do not contain any unintended substances like N,a-DEPEA. The NSF program is used by the NFL, NHL, MLB, PGA, LPGA, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and the New York City Police Department.

The article outlining the results of this collaborative testing project was published in Drug Testing and Analysis by NSF International Senior Research Scientist John Travis, Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Pieter Cohen and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment’s Bastiaan Venhuis. The paper can be downloaded from Drug Testing and Analysis' library.

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