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Schumer Wants FDA To Halt Approval Of Palcohol

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer stopped by the Albany Boys & Girls Club Friday afternoon, continuing his crusade against a powdered alcohol product positioned to hit store shelves in the fall.

"You know this product is so outrageous that when I first heard about it I thought 'Are we being punk'd?' I mean is this for real?"  Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan couldn't believe the freeze-dry process, mostly used to manufacture instant coffee, had been applied to alcohol and is on the verge of being marketed under the brand "Palcohol," for powdered alcohol, which can be added to food or snorted like cocaine.

Last month, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau decided not to give Palcohol final approval, but the makers have renewed their effort to get it okayed.

Warning it will become “the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking,” Schumer continued his swipe at Palcohol, calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ban it before it ever hits store shelves.    "How do I know that they can do this? Well, I got the FDA to ban something called Four Loko. That was a combination of alcohol and caffeine, also dangerous to our kids, also marketed to our kids. They banned it, but they banned it only several months after it got on the shelves. And we had deaths and injuries as a result. So we want the FDA to ban it and ban it ahead of time, so this will never see the light."

On its website, the maker of Palcohol complains media coverage has focused on the perceived negative aspects of powdered alcohol as a result of ignorance. It cites as an inaccurate statement "People will snort it and get drunk" and says, "Not true. It's painful to snort due to the alcohol. "

Credit Google
Screenshot of Palcohol website from internet cache archives. Hover and click to enlarge image. Read the last paragraph.

But Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple expects "Palcohol"-related incidents  to rival those of heroin. He visited the powdermaker's website before it was revised.   "I found quotes from the company owner indicating it can be snorted. That's a problem folks. I found pictures on there under the Palcohol name and it was cut up into lines with a razor blade similar to cocaine. That's a problem. I found a picture of a pile of doughnuts where people were pouring a Palcohol pouch on the doughnuts. That's a problem."

Palcohol is currently undergoing a federal label approval process. The manufacturer says it has many positive uses and recommends it be approved, taxed and regulated just like liquid alcohol.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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