U.S. Food and Drug Administration Issues Warning About Vinpocetine Dietary Supplements Causing Miscarriages

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning in a news release stating that, vinpocetine, an ingredient found in dietary supplements is associated with miscarriage. The announcement comes after data reviewed by the FDA, including a recent report by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program (NYP), found that consumption of the ingredient, vinpocetine, is associated with adverse reproductive effects.

As a result, the agency is warning “women of childbearing age” to stay away from supplements with vinpocetine.

Vinpocetine is a synthetically produced compound that is used in some products marketed as dietary supplements, either by itself or combined with other ingredients. Vinpocetine may be referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract, or common periwinkle extract. Dietary supplements containing vinpocetine are often marketed for uses that include enhanced memory, focus, or mental acuity; increased energy; and weight loss.

Scientists who have studied the effects of vinpocetine on pregnant animals concluded that vinpocetine decreased fetal weight and increased the chances of a miscarriage. The blood levels of vinpocetine measured in the pregnant animals were similar to those reported in people after taking a single dose of vinpocetine, indicating that pregnant women may experience adverse effects from vinpocetine similar to those seen in the pregnant animals.

“We’re advising pregnant women and women who could become pregnant not to take vinpocetine,” the statement says. “We are also advising firms marketing dietary supplements containing vinpocetine to evaluate their product labeling to ensure that it provides safety warnings against use by pregnant women and women who could become pregnant.”

Scientists who studied the effects of vinpocetine on pregnant animals concluded that it decreased fetal weight and increased the chances of a miscarriage. The blood levels of vinpocetine measured in the pregnant animals were similar to those reported in people after taking a single dose of vinpocetine, indicating that pregnant women may experience adverse effects from vinpocetine similar to those seen in the pregnant animals.

While in some countries vinpocetine is regulated as a prescription drug, that’s not the case in the US. When products like vinpocetine are sold as dietary supplements in the states, they haven’t been reviewed by the FDA under the safety and effectiveness standards that apply to drug products. Meaning, the FDA hasn’t reviewed each vinpocetine product, or its labeling, before it becomes available to consumers.

Vinpocetine may also be referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract or common periwinkle extract. Dietary supplements containing vinpocetine are usually marketed towards enhancing memory, focus or mental acuity; increased energy; and weight loss.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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