PowderCity Shutdown: Future of Nootropics in US Looks Bleak

On March 15th, PowderCity announced that it is shutting down. As of this writing, it is no longer possible to order from PowderCity.com.

PowderCity's sister sites Supplementastic and Nootrostop have also been discontinued.

Since March 15th, PowderCity has been referring customers to NootropicsDepot.

PowderCity's announcement to shut down comes two weeks after AwakeBrain was raided by the FDA.

The Walmart of Nootropics

At its peak, PowderCity was the highest volume nootropics vendor; the Walmart of nootropics.

In contrast, their largest competitor Ceretropic/NootropicsDepot had a pricier but more novel product catalog. Ceretropic also initially focused on sublingual solutions and novelty verses PowderCity's focus on bulk powders and low pricing.


In April 2016 PowderCity received a slap on the wrist from the FDA. The warning letter concerned PowderCity's marketing and sale of AMP citrate as a dietary supplement.

This letter concerns your product AMP Citrate, which is labeled and/or offered for sale as a dietary supplement. The Supplement Facts panel on your product label declares AMP Citrate as a dietary ingredient. This ingredient is also called, among other names, 1,3 Dimethylbutylamine, DMBA, 2-amino-4-methylpentane, and 4-methyl-2-pentanamine, and will be referred to in the rest of this letter as DMBA.

In Q4 of 2016, PowderCity discontinued most of its higher risk products. Tianeptine, phenibut, adrafinil, noopept, and all the racetams were removed. PowderCity spun off two separate sites - Supplementastic and Nootrostop - so that they could continue selling their high-risk products.

The narrative at the time was that PowderCity had grown rapidly and wanted to pivot to more mainstream supplements to mitigate risk.

PowderCity's owner commented:

[The decision to discontinue tianeptine sales is] a business decision due to the nature of the product and how it's actually taken versus how it should be taken.

The Reddit thread discussing PowderCity's decision to discontinue tianeptine sales can be found here.


The catalyst for PowderCity's shutdown is a lawsuit initiated in November 2016.

Two parents sued Powder City LLC when their son died after ingesting tianeptine. Tianeptine is marketed in Europe as an antidepressant but remains unregulated in the United States.

State of The Nootropics Industry

The state of nootropics in the US looks bleak.

Despite the recent crackdown on nootropics, there's been substantial entrepreneurship in the nootropics space in the last few years.

NootroBox is a San Francisco-based startup that markets nootropics in a form that's more palatable to the mainstream consumer. The company was started by an ex-Google employee and Stanford alumni.

Timeline of Nootropics Crackdown

Hard Rhino Caffeine Overdose Lawsuit

In March 2015, the father of a teen who died after ingesting caffeine sued Hard Rhino. Hard Rhino sells bulk supplements on Amazon and on their website.

According to the Consumerist:

When the 18-year-old died, the amount of caffeine in his system was about 23 times greater than the level in a typical soda or coffee drinker, and a coroner ruled that his death was due to cardiac arrhythmia and seizure due to acute caffeine toxicity.

Ceretropic Loss of Payment Processing

In March 2015, Ceretropic lost its payment processor. Certropic remains able to transact by accepting bitcoin.

Though Ceretropic took a large hit to traffic when it stopped accepting credit cards, it remains a successful business.

Credit card processors are reluctant to underwrite businesses that they deem high-risk. Other high-risk industries, besides the nutraceutical space, include gambling and pornography.

Link to Reddit discussion.

UK 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act

Last year, the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect in the UK, forcing UK-based vendors to close up shop. The legislation's language is troublingly broad.

The act makes it an offense to supply, possess with intent to supply or import psychoactive substances. Psychoactive substances are understood to mean any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of eliciting a psychoactive effect.

Link to the Reddit discussion.

AwakeBrain FDA Raid

Early this month, the FDA raided the house of Emil Koledin. Emil was the owner of nootropics vendor AwakeBrain. The raid was likely related to AwakeBrain's high-risk products.

Link to Reddit discussion.

It is currently possible to buy nootropics from Nootropics Depot, Ceretropic and other vendors in the US. But it seems likely that nootropics will be more heavily regulated in the United States.

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Xavier Kent

I'm interested in nutrition, nootropics, and javascript. I'm a firm believer in getting really good at one thing.


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