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New York Bans Ephedra

Monday, August 25, 2003
Chuck Bell – 914-378- 2507
Elisa Odabashian or Michael McCauley

Statement of President James A. Guest, CEO and President of Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports

Consumers Union is very pleased that New York State has banned the retail sale of ephedra, which is used in dietary supplements sold as weight-loss aids and energy boosters.
We believe that an outright ban of this particularly hazardous herbal supplement for both children and adults is badly needed to protect consumers from serious potential adverse health effects. From January 1993 through October 2000, the FDA received 1,398 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 about herbal supplements containing ephedra constituted 42% of all dietary supplement complaints, and 59% of all reported deaths.
We applaud the New York State Legislature for its leadership in passing the legislation sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. and Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer. Illinois set a precedent as the first state to ban the sale of ephedra; New York is only the second state to follow suit. We strongly urge other states to protect consumers by promptly passing similar laws banning the sale of ephedra to children and adults.
California is also considering a ban of dietary supplements containing ephedra (SB 582). An ephedra ban has been approved by the state senate and will be taken up by the Assembly in the coming weeks. Consumers Union’s West Coast office is pushing strongly for passage of this legislation. The state already requires warning labels on all ephedra supplements and prohibits their sale to minors.
We also support a California bill to require manufacturers of herbal supplements to report to state health authorities any adverse events or complaints they have received from their customers (SB 779).
Consumer Reports in 1995 was among the first publications to disclose the dangers of ephedra in dietary supplements and Consumers Union has repeatedly asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale of ephedra and to require pre-market safety testing of dietary supplements.
Because of the federal government’s unconscionable delay in addressing this problem, we support a ban on ephedra products by any level of state and local government willing to act to protect consumers from this health risk.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational 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.