AeroShot Pure Energy -- a small canister that delivers a "shot" of inhalable, powdered caffeine with just a puff or two -- landed on the market in New York and Massachusetts last month without much scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration. Until now, anyway: According to the Associated Press, the FDA will investigate the product to determine whether the product is safe for consumption.
The AeroShot is intended to provide a quick caffeine delivery system for those who can't be bothered to drink a cup of joe. Each AeroShot is $2.99 and contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine powder, approximately the amount of caffeine in a large cup of coffee. The powder dissolves almost instantly on the tongue when the AeroShot is puffed.
Sold and marketed as a dietary supplement, the product's packaging warns users to not inhale more than three AeroShots a day. It also states that it is not intended for those "under 12, sensitive to caffeine, allergic to ragweed, taking medications, who are pregnant or who have any medical condition."
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These warnings are not enough for Sen. Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y., who is concerned that the AeroShot may be abused by teenagers on the hunt for a Four Loko substitute. At his urging, the FDA will investigate the safety of the product, as well as it whether it indeed qualifies as a dietary supplement.
And while it may have been more useful if the agency investigated the AeroShot before it actually was available for sale, the AP notes that the FDA could do only so much. As the FDA explains on its website, such supplements are not subject to federal review until after the product hits the market. Before that, manufacturers are on the honor system: "The dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market."
AeroShot inventor David Edwards, a Harvard biomedical engineering professor who also invented inhalable chocolate, told ABC News, "We are absolutely welcoming a dialogue with the FDA" and insisted that his product is safe and in compliance with federal regulations.
At the end of the day, though, Edwards' bigger problem may be the fact that the AeroShot is a terrible way to get your caffeine fix: It tastes less like the Pixy Stix of your childhood dreams and more like the undissolved lime-flavored Emergen-C of your adulthood nightmares. In other words, skip this whole FDA debate altogether and spend your three bucks on a cup of coffee instead.