Tracie Hanner and her husband were looking for a way to spice up their marriage. A friend suggested they try a diet supplement called Thunder Nectar.
"I was told that the product was going to be natural and safe and that it was going to help rekindle the intimate romantic side of our marriage again," Tracie says.
Instead, Tracie fell unconscious after she and her husband Darryl drank a glass of the diet supplement. She survived complications from the drug, but her husband did not.
"I looked down and saw him laying there and his color was just purple and blue," she recalls.
What killed Darryl Hanner was a substance in the supplement called BD or butane diol.
In the body, BD is converted to another chemical GHB, or gamma hydroxy butrate. GHB is a popular "party drug," a powerful sedative that has been linked to several deaths and cases of date rape. The FDA has long outlawed its sale or manufacture.
"These are considered drugs, and selling them as drugs or dietary supplements is illegal," said FDA official Dr. Janet Woodcock.
After a decade of enforcement the FDA still can't stop GHB use. It is easy to make and legal to possess in many states. But most troubling, says the FDA, is the way commercial manufacturers are getting around the ban on GHB by reformulating their products.
"It seems to be a many-headed monster and we keep chopping it off and it keeps regenerating itself, but we are taking very strong action," Dr. Woodcock says.
The FDA recently issued a number of warnings against products containing chemicals that convert to GHB when ingested. Products such as RenewTrient, Revivarent and SomatoPro are widely available on the Internet. They promise better sex, sound sleep, and bigger muscles, but taking too much or mixing them with alcohol can be deadly.
GHB still has supporters though. Researchers are testing GHB as a possible treatment for chronic sleepiness.
Dr. Ward Dean, of Vitamin Research Products, prescribes GHB-related products such as RenewTrient and insists it is beneficial.
"I don't think GHB will kill anybody," says Dr. Ward Dean. "It lowers cholesterol, it reduces oxygen requirements of the heart and the brain, it's been used in attention deficit disorder," he says.
A 23-year-old named Joshua, who didn't want his last name released, says GHB has changed his life. He's been taking a GHB-related product for three months and claims it has cured his insomnia and depression.
"It kind of energizes me -- it's like if somebody drank a cup of coffee," he says.
Meanwhile, Tracie Hanner is suing the company that sol her Thunder Nectar. She hopes to make sure no one else takes the chemical that killed her husband.
"There was no protection between this product and us. There was nothing that told us this could possibly be harmful -- and it was not only harmful, it was fatal," Tracie says.
The state of Texas is taking action by filing a lawsuit against the makers of RenewTrient. Texas also plans to make possession of GHB a felony, like that of cocaine or crack.