Vinpocetine, an ingredient found in some dietary supplements, may be associated with adverse reproductive effects, according to a safety communication from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The warning comes after the Agency reviewed a report by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program (NTP) which evaluated the “developmental and/or reproductive toxicity of selected substances in laboratory animals.” Results showed vinopocetine decreased fetal weight and increased the chance for miscarriage in pregnant animals. As the blood levels of vinpocetine measured in the animals were similar to those reported in individuals who consumed a single dose of vinpocetine, it can be inferred that the risks would apply to humans as well.
Vinpocetine, a synthetically produced compound, is sometimes referred to as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract, or common periwinkle extract; dietary supplements containing vinpocetine have been marketed for improving memory, focus, and energy, as well as for promoting weight loss.
Because products containing vinpocetine are sold as dietary supplements, they are not reviewed by the FDA under the same standards that apply to drug products. The number of vinpocetine products has grown recently, leading the FDA to expedite an evaluation (started in 2016) of whether vinpocetine is legal for sale as a dietary supplement in the US (in some countries it is regulated as a prescription drug).
Earlier this year, the FDA created the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List to alert the public of unlawful ingredients in supplements. Based on recent findings, the Agency is advising pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to not take vinpocetine. In addition, companies marketing these products are being advised to evaluate product labeling to ensure safety information is clearly stated regarding the risks to women of child-bearing age.
For more information visit FDA.gov.