Democratic senators have sent a letter to the FDA requesting that it enact a federal ban on the sale of pure caffeine powder, a drug that resulted in two overdose deaths in 2014.
Caffeine powder is highly potent, with a single teaspoon equaling about 28 cups of coffee. Small amounts can cause someone to overdose, the symptoms of which include heart palpitations, seizures and death.
The powder can be purchased over the internet in bulk. Measuring out a safe dose is almost impossible using standard kitchen utensils.
Two young men died after ingesting pure caffeine powder in 2014. The first occurred in May of that year, when high school wrestler Logan Stiner miscalculated his dosage and passed away days before graduation, according to The Daily Beast.
A month later, 24-year-old James Wade Sweatt's heart stopped after he mixed the powder into a drink.
"What followed was several long terrible days, in which Wade had cardiac arrest over and over again," his parents wrote in a statement, according to The Daily Beast. "We finally had to make the terrible decision to take him off life support, after it was clear that he was brain dead."
Following these deaths, the FDA released a statement warning consumers against ingesting the powder. It also sent warning letters to a number of distributors. However, the powder remains on the market.
The senators behind the campaign to ban the powder are disappointed in the FDA's response.
"It is disturbing that despite two unintended and untimely deaths associated with powdered caffeine, the FDA has done little to regulate these products or adequately enforce the standards in place to protect Americans," they wrote in their letter, according to Mic.
"These products do not provide a way to measure a safe dosage per FDA recommendations, and are sold in quantities that could easily kill hundreds of individuals if ingested incorrectly," the letter notes.
The Center for Science and the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit organization that advocates for food safety, has also called on the FDA to do more, reports The Daily Beast.
"It is astonishing that a substance that is fatal for adults in the amount of two tablespoons is sold cheaply over the Internet as loose powder in large bags without clear warnings," CSPI Regulatory Affairs Director Laura MacCleery said in statement, adding that "[a]ny action less than a ban would be confirmation that FDA has lost its way."