Washington, D.C.—The United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) released a joint statement today warning about a substance called phenibut, which is being “illegally marketed in products fraudulently labeled as dietary supplements.”

The press release states that it was developed and used as a drug in the former Soviet Union, but it is not approved as a drug in the United States and does not meet the regulatory requirements to be sold in or as a dietary supplement.

According to American Addiction Centers, phenibut is similar to the neurotransmitter GABA, allowing it to bind to GABA sites in the brain, providing sedative effects. However, people using phenibut quickly develop a tolerance, requiring users to increase the dosage in order to maintain the desired effects. It can be addictive, with severe withdrawal symptoms. Its side effects can make breathing difficult and cause dizziness, nausea, and, in high doses, unconsciousness.

UNPA, CHPA, CRN, and AHPA say in their statement that they have notified the Food and Drug Administration and contacted several online retailers selling products containing phenibut to urge them to remove those items from their websites.

They urge all retailers of dietary supplements to refuse to stock or sell any product containing phenibut, and urge customers to avoid any product containing phenibut. They also ask manufacturers, marketers, and retailers to refrain from promoting these products.