FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 13, 2003
Elisa Odabashian: 415-431-6747
Governor Davis Signs Ephedra Ban Bill
SACRAMENTO, CA – Governor Davis signed into law a bill, passed by the California Legislature, to ban the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra. Similar bans of the controversial weight loss and sports supplement have already been enacted in Illinois and New York.
“California lawmakers have made it clear that they are tired of waiting for the federal government to take action to protect consumers from hazardous dietary supplements containing ephedra. This drug has been linked to too many people who have died or been permanently injured,” said Elisa Odabashian, Senior Policy Analyst for Consumers Union’s West Coast Regional Office. “We applaud Governor Davis for joining New York and Illinois in banning this dangerous product. Ephedra supplements offer very limited benefits while putting consumers at risk to some very serious health problems.”
From January 1993 through October 2000, the FDA received almost 1400 reports of adverse events linked to herbal supplements containing ephedra, including 81 deaths, 32 heart attacks, 62 reports of cardiac arrhythmia, 91 reports of hypertension, 69 strokes, and 70 seizures. Complaints to the FDA about ephedra made up 42 percent of all dietary supplement complaints and 59 percent of all reported deaths related to dietary supplements.
In February, the 23-year-old pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, Steve Bechler, who had been taking an ephedra product (Xenadrine RFA-1), died of heatstroke in Florida spring training. On March 13, 2003, Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said that toxicology tests confirmed that “significant amounts” of the over-the-counter supplement containing ephedra led to the heatstroke, along with other factors. Following this incident, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new labels for ephedra products that would list death, heart attacks, and strokes as possible side effects. Last year, California passed a statute that bans the sale of ephedra to minors and requires warning labels on such products.
“We thank California lawmakers and Governor Davis for protecting California consumers by banning the manufacture, distribution, and sale of ephedra,” said Odabashian. “Given the FDA’s failure to ban these dangerous dietary supplements, it was time for California to act.”
Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization, serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.