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Posted September 16, 2016

Memory Enhancement Ingredient Vinpocetine Should Not Be Sold In Supplements, Says FDA

On September 7, 2016, the FDA announced its tentative conclusion that the synthetic compound vinpocetine, currently sold in some dietary supplements, should not be classified as a dietary supplement ingredient. The agency is seeking comments for consideration as it works to make a final decision on the regulatory status of the chemical.

Vinpocetine is produced by chemically altering a compound found in periwinkle (Vinca minor L.). In the U.S. vinpocetine is currently sold as an ingredient in dietary supplements promoted to improve memory and cognition function, such as Procera AVH, and is sometimes added to Gingko biloba supplements. (Note: In 2015, a study of 23 supplements sold in the U.S. which listed vinpocetine as an ingredient found six did not contain any vinpocetine. Among those that did contain vinpocetine, most did not list amounts on the label -- see the Warning for more information about the study).

However, in its statement, the FDA noted that vinpocetine is "not an herb or other botanical, nor is it a constituent of any botanical," and does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient." In Europe, vinpocetine is sold as a prescription drug. 

Since 1997, the FDA has received, and not objected to, five new dietary ingredient notifications (NDIs) for vinpocetine. However, if the FDA decides that vinpocetine does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient, it will no longer be permitted to be sold in supplements.

(See the Review of Ginkgo Biloba Supplements for tests of related products).

To read the FDA's notice, use the link below.