MedSafe investigating second 'diet' coffee product over class C drug ingredient

Medicine safety watchdog MedSafe is investigating a second 'diet' coffee product being sold in New Zealand due to complaints it could contain a class C controlled drug.

Elevate 'smart coffee' - made by Elevacity - may contain PEA, which is considered by New Zealand government agencies as being an illegal Class C drug. Source: 1 NEWS

MedSafe confirmed last month that Valentus SlimRoast coffee products contained a class C drug - phenethylamine or phenylethylamine - as well as prescription medicine DMAA.

It warned people not to use the product, and seized stock. 

The agency has now confirmed it is investigating a similar product - Elevate - which is manufactured by US company Elevacity, after they were alerted by a member of the public.

1 NEWS has confirmed the product, sometimes referred to as "happy coffee" or "smart coffee", is being sold privately in New Zealand by a number of individuals, who sometimes refer to themselves as "elepreneurs".

According to product information labels on Elevate products, some contain phenethylamine, commonly referred to as PEA.

PEA is a stimulant in the amphetamine family which occurs in the human body in very small amounts, as well as in some foods like wine and chocolate.

It causes a very short rush of dopamine to be released in the consumer, which gives a general sense of stimulation and wellbeing.

MedSafe has confirmed that PEA is classified in New Zealand as a class C controlled drug when it occurs in unnatural quantities.

A spokesperson for MedSafe said testing is now underway on a range of Elevate products.

Customs are responsible for monitoring items entering the country.

Elevacity products are manufactured overseas.

Customs Manager of Northern Ports Mark O'Toole said Customs are aware of the products, and that they are now actively targeting goods "that are suspected of being illegal imports sent under the guise of legal shipments".

"This case is an important reminder of 'buyer beware' when it comes to importing products from overseas-based websites," Mr O'Toole said.

"We urge New Zealanders to exercise extreme caution when it comes to buying dietary supplements and medicines online – you have no guarantee of what you're actually getting.

"While you may have every intent to buy legal products, it is important to scrutinise the ingredients."

Gary Orr, Ministry of Primary Industries' Director of Compliance Services, said products containing illegal substances should not be sold to consumers, or those doing so could face consequences.

"It is not permitted for products, classed as food, containing illegal substances to be sold in New Zealand," Mr Orr said.

"The rules about sale depend on the classification of product – specifically whether it is a food or a dietary supplement - if a product is outside the rules for food and is classified as a drug, it could be destroyed and the operator could face criminal charges.

"We are working with Medsafe to check whether these products are for sale in New Zealand and if these are safe and suitable for consumers.

"If there are any concerns identified, we will take appropriate steps, including advising consumers of our concerns, removing the product from sale and/or taking other enforcement action."

Elevacity did not respond to a request for comment.