Adderall Knockoffs Are Unapproved, Potentially Dangerous, Experts Say

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Pills Lack Safety Data

Johns Hopkins' Cole said the descriptions and names of the ingredients signal to him that the compounds are extremely similar to amphetamines, which promote the release of the hormone adrenaline known for its role in the "fight-or-flight" response.

"Amphetamines are dangerous, potentially very toxic stuff," Cole said. "It could cause cardiovascular toxicity and dilate blood vessels, which could lower your blood pressure and cause changes in heart rate that could be dangerous."

But Headley said the compound his company uses lacks these dangerous side effects because it's not identical to the amphetamines used in Adderall.

"It comes very close, but it's not the same chemical, and it's not the same ingredient," Headley said. "It's not like comparing apples and apples -- it's more like oranges and tangerines."

Since ADDTabz launched last year, Headley said he's only heard mild complaints from 1 to 2 percent of people who have tried the product.

Still, Cole advises consumers to steer clear of products labeled as "prescription strength" containing synthetic amphetamines or ambiguous ingredients.

"These should be treated the way prescription drugs are treated and prescribed by a physician if they are given," Cole said. "And I'm not saying they should be given at all."

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