For more than a decade, federal authorities have had their eyes on Jared Wheat.
The story you're reading is premium content from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
AJC Print subscriber - I've already registered my account.Sign In
AJC Print subscriber - I need to register my account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyAJC.com now - 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyAJC.com all week - 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to AJC for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
1944 _ Dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, is patented under the name Forthane by Eli Lilly and Company for use in nasal spray.
1983 _ Eli Lilly withdraws Forthane from the market.
2006 _ Patrick Arnold, a chemist involved in the BALCO steroid scandal, introduces DMAA as a dietary supplement ingredient under the name Geranamine.
June 2011 _ Army Pvt. Michael Sparling, 22, collapses after a run at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and dies. Hypothermia is listed as the cause of death. Toxicology tests show DMAA and caffeine in his blood.
November 2011 _ A 31-year-old female soldier collapses while running. She dies six weeks later. The cause of her death is also listed as hypothermia, and toxicology tests also show caffeine and DMAA.
December 2011 _ The Department of Defense orders that all products containing DMAA be pulled from military exchanges.
April 2012 _ The FDA begins sending warning letters to companies selling products with DMAA, advising them that those products can’t legally be sold as dietary supplements.
January 2013 _ A coroner in Britain cites DMAA as a factor in the death of 30-year-old runner Claire Squires at the 2012 London Marathon.
February 2013 _ Sparling’s family files suit against USPlabs, the Dallas company that distributed the dietary supplement Jack3d, and GNC, the retailer that sold it, alleging they contributed to the Army private’s death.
April 2013 _ The FDA issues an alert to consumers stating that DMAA doesn’t qualify as a legal supplement and that it can dangerously elevate blood pressure.
May 2013 _ The House Energy and Commerce committee requests information on DMAA from the FDA, USPlabs and GNC.
June 2013 _ The Department of Defense releases a report on DMAA. It says no “direct causality” could be found between the deaths of four soldiers and their use of DMAA products. However, it recommends continuing the ban on the sale of DMAA products at military exchanges.
June-July 2013 _ In federal court, the FDA seeks to seize more than 3,200 cases of USPlabs DMAA products Jack3d and OxyElite Pro at GNC warehouses in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. GNC subsequently agrees to destroy the products.
July 2013 _ USPlabs destroys its inventory of Jack3d and OxyElite Pro.
1998 _ Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals is incorporated in Georgia.
2000 _ The Atlanta field office of the Drug Enforcement Administration investigates Wheat’s role in the distribution of a substance called “Verve,” which allegedly includes the date-rape drug Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and is labeled as “cleaning solution” to conceal its real purpose. Wheat wasn’t charged with a crime.
2003 _ Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals agrees to destroy seven of its dietary supplements after the FDA seeks an injunction against the company for selling misbranded and unapproved new drugs. Some of the products had been subject to a public health advisory stating that they contained the erectile dysfunction drug tadalafil.
2004 _ The Federal Trade Commission files suit against Wheat, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals and others alleging that they made false advertising claims.
February 2006 _ The FDA seizes more than 200 cases of supplements valued at $3 million from Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals because they contain the banned stimulant ephedra, linked to serious illnesses and deaths.
September 2006 _ A federal indictment alleges that Wheat masterminded a scheme in which Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals used the Internet to sell knock-off prescription manufactured in Belize.
August 2008 _ Wheat pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to introduce and deliver unapproved new and unadulterated drugs into interstate commerce.
December 2008 _ U.S. District Judge Charles A. Pannell orders Wheat and other defendants in the FTC case to pay $15.9 million. The ruling also enjoins them from making false product claims in the future.
February 2009 _ Wheat is sentenced to 50 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised released.
March 2011 _ Wheat is released from prison.
August 2013 _ Pannell rules that Wheat and other defendants in the FTC case violated the 2008 court order by continuing to make false product claims.
September 2013 _ In a court filing, the FTC says it believes “coercive incarceration” is the only way to compel compliance with the judge’s order.
About this story
To check on the availability of products labeled as containing dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution purchased products from the websites of both Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals and APS Nutrition. The newspaper also found a Hi-Tech product with DMAA, Fastin XR, being sold at GNC, CVS and Kroger stores in the Atlanta metro and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas.
Material on the deaths and health issues relating to DMAA and the FDA’s response was gathered from FDA documents, lawsuits and a report compiled by the Department of Defense, as well as interviews with industry experts. The AJC used the federal Freedom of Information Act to obtain a compilation of the adverse health events reported to the FDA.
To gain an understanding of how many supplement companies are still selling DMAA products, the AJC reviewed a database of DMAA products maintained by a federal program that studies health issues affecting soldiers.
Background on Jared Wheat was gleaned from criminal and civil court records dating back 10 years.