Is Phenibut Legal in The US?

Updated July 9, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 3 minutes)

Phenibut is a dietary supplement derived from GABA. It was developed in the 1960s in Russia and used to treat a variety of conditions including anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD, insomnia and epilepsy.

Like other nootropics, Phenibut has been used by students and professionals to improve cognitive function. Many people believe that it enhances motivation and memory recall.

Most nootropic users are aware of the benefits of Phenibut as a supplement. They are less aware of its legality. So is Phenibut legal in the US? Let's find out.

Legality of Phenibut In The United States

The dietary supplement industry is a lucrative one, with an annual growth rate of 6%. In 2013, the US supplement industry had a market size of $47 billion and with the increased popularity of nootropics such as Phenibut, its profitability is likely to rise.

However, in the US, the sale and manufacture of dietary supplements with new active ingredients is regulated by the FDA. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) did away with the need for premarket approval for dietary supplements and classified them as food items.

The FDA has three mechanisms to control unapproved or illegal compounds in dietary supplements:

Traditionally, Phenibut was not manufactured and sold in the US because it is a modified version of GABA. But recently Phenibut has become more popular than ever before with many people believing that it enhances cognition and memory.

This popularity has led to an increased number of online retailers offering this supplement for sale in capsules and powder form.

How Does the FDA Enforce Its Ban

The agency has limited resources at its disposal so they usually inform online retailers about the regulation that they are flouting. If these retailers continue selling unapproved compounds, then they could be served cease-and-desist letters by the agency, or face civil penalties of up to $132,500 per violation.

Based on this, Phenibut is not illegal in the US as it is not listed in the FDA's rules for banned substances. This, however, doesn't mean that its sale and purchase is legal.

Phenibut is not approved by the FDA as a drug. In fact, it has no recognized therapeutic uses, so any online retailer that sells Phenibut for medicinal reasons could be in violation of federal law.

In addition to this, Phenibut was originally developed in Russia for astronauts and cosmonauts to reduce their anxiety levels. Several case studies have shown that taking Phenibut can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and irritability. Therefore, the FDA believes that this supplement can be addictive.

If you are planning to buy or sell Phenibut then you need to consider if they have been approved by the FDA before doing so. By doing so you will avoid any legal issues with the agency and ensure your safety while avoiding any potential dangers associated with unapproved compounds in dietary supplements.

Phenibut Falls Under A Gray Area

Phenibut is not officially legal in the US. However, it is not illegal either. The supplement falls under a gray area as its sale and purchase are not banned by federal law.

Despite this, there have been cases where online retailers have been punished for selling Phenibut for medicinal purposes without FDA approval. Furthermore, no clinical studies about the effectiveness of Phenibut as a nootropic have been conducted in the US so far.

Therefore, if you are looking to buy this supplement, then stick with reputable online retailers who sell approved compounds only. You should always check the label for confirmation of quality and origin before you buy Phenibut pills or powder from an unauthorized retailer.