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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can FDA Stop AeroShot “Breathable” Caffeine?

By Daniel J. DeNoon

“The energy of the future is here,” says the web site of AeroShot, a “breathable” caffeine product.

The lipstick-size device shoots a puff of lime-flavored powder onto the tongue. Each $3 unit delivers 100 mg of caffeine — about the same amount as in a shot of espresso and a little less than in an 8-oz. can of Red Bull — in about four to six puffs.

While the product may claim to be “breathable,” it’s not supposed to be inhaled into the lungs. It does make you cough if you breathe it in too hard. But the AeroShot web site says the caffeine powder can’t get into the lungs because its particles are too large to “penetrate the respiratory tract.”

Want proof? So does N.Y. Sen. Charles Schumer, who has asked the FDA to investigate the safety of AeroShot. The FDA has confirmed to WebMD that an investigation is indeed under way. Whether the FDA will find that it has the authority to regulate AeroShot — sold as a nutritional supplement — remains a question.

Schumer’s main concern is that AeroShot will be used by teens to stay awake while drinking dangerous quantities of alcohol. Schumer says the product is being marketed as a party drug, although the AeroShot web site does not suggest such use.

Breathable Foods, the maker of AeroShot, says it does not recommend the product for people under age 18. The recommended dose is no more than three vials per day. But no ID is required to buy the product, which is freely available online and in stores in New York City and Boston.

Caffeine isn’t the only ingredient in AeroShot. It also contains B vitamins, “natural lime flavor,” citric acid, and sodium bicarbonate. And since caffeine is bitter, it’s sweetened with Stevia.

Because some people with ragweed allergy are sensitive to Stevia, AeroShot carries a warning that it should not be used by people with ragweed allergy. The product may also contain traces of soy and wheat.

Breathable Foods’ first product was a zero-calorie “breathable” chocolate under the brand name Le Whif. The firm also plans to introduce an “age-smart wine tea” containing vitamin D and resveratrol, and an antioxidant green tea with vitamins C and E.

Harvard bioengineer David Edwards, PhD, came up with the Le Whif and AeroShot ideas at his ArtScience Labs. Breathable Foods is a spinoff firm, as is France’s Lab Store. Lab Store already is taking orders — in Europe only — for Le Whaf: A beverage in gas form that one sips with a special straw. Martini will be one of the first flavors.

Has the controversy hurt AeroShot sales? Apparently not. Orders made on the company web site note that due to heavy demand, shipments won’t be made until the end of February.

Posted by: Daniel DeNoon at 1:38 pm

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