U.S. To Ban Ephedra
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2003
The General Accounting Office reported this summer that many of the complaints came from users under 30. Reported problems included heart attacks, strokes and seizures.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, had taken a dietary supplement containing ephedra, is driven off the field in February. He died shortly thereafter. (Photo: AP)
(CBS/AP) The Bush administration has decided to ban the herbal weight-loss supplement ephedra from the marketplace because of concerns about its effects on health, government officials said Tuesday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Food and Drug Administration chief Mark McClellan were to announce the ban at a midday news conference, the officials said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.
The ban is likely to be met with litigation from manufacturers who dispute the agency's assertion that ephedra, which was blamed in the death of a professional baseball player's death earlier this year, is a health risk.
Congressional investigators have found that many people who followed guidelines for using the herbal stimulant still reported health problems. The General Accounting Office reported this summer that many of the complaints came from users under 30. Reported problems included heart attacks, strokes and seizures.
There are reports of more than 100 deaths being linked to the herb.
The drug's maker, Metabolite, has said it "strongly believes in the science supporting the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements that contain ephedra when used as directed."
Ephedra was thrust into the spotlight in February following the death of Baltimore Orioles minor league pitcher Steve Bechler, who had taken a dietary supplement containing ephedra.
Ephedra is banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Football League and the International Olympic Committee but not major league baseball. In May, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the nation's first statewide ban on ephedra.
Congress in 1994 severely limited federal oversight of dietary supplements.