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Capitol Health Call
November 6, 2002

Ephedra Debated

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JAMA. 2002;288(17):2111. doi:10.1001/jama.288.17.2111-JCH20001-4-1

The House Committee on Government Reform took up the issue of FDA regulation of the stimulant ephedra during a hearing on October 8. Although it is banned in Canada, the herb is classified as a dietary supplement in the United States and therefore not subject to federal legislation. Representative Henry Waxman (D, Calif) is leading a charge to change that.

In a new report coauthored by Waxman, the Committee documents 13 000 adverse events reported to the largest manufacturer of ephedra products, Metabolife. Collected between 1997 and 2002, the events "reported to Metabolife by consumers of its products include 3 deaths, 20 heart attacks, 24 strokes, 40 seizures, 465 episodes of chest pains, and 966 reports of heart rhythm disturbances." In October, the American Medical Association testified in favor of an ephedra ban.

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