Caffeine inhaler raises health concerns

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling for federal oversight of AeroShot, which its maker calls "an airborne shot" of caffeine and which is set to debut on New York store shelves in January. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Dec. 22, 2011)

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An inhaler-like product that delivers shots of caffeine has prompted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer to ask the Food and Drug Administration to review it.

Schumer is concerned that teenagers may be harmed by AeroShot, the caffeine inhaler that is set to be sold in New York State.

At a news conference Thursday at Hicksville High School, Schumer (D-N.Y.) called AeroShot "a new and dangerous product that puts teens and young children at risk" because it allows them to feel they can imbibe more by minimizing the sleepiness that comes from drinking alcohol.

He asked the FDA Thursday to immediately review the device and compel its manufacturer, Cambridge, Mass.-based Breathable Foods, to provide evidence the product is safe, particularly for minors. He called for the review because the American Academy of Pediatrics, noting caffeine's effects on minors, had told the company of its concerns on Wednesday.

Breathable Foods chief executive Tom Hadfield said in a statement Thursday that the product is safe and the 100 mg of caffeine in each container is "the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee."

"AeroShot is not intended for use by children, and it is not marketed to children," Breathable Foods said in a news release Thursday. The company's website said the powder was "puffed" from a container, similar in appearance to inhalers used for asthma medicine. The powder is not inhaled into the lungs "because gravity and inertial forces lead them to fall out of the air and land on your tongue," according to the website.

FDA spokesman Douglas Karas said the agency would review Schumer's request about AeroShot but declined to say when it would be completed. AeroShot, which is available online and in Europe, is scheduled to be sold in U.S. stores as a nutritional supplement next month.

Levy agreed, saying that masking the effects of alcohol "is exactly what gets kids into trouble, [like] getting behind the wheel" after drinking.

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