An Ephedra Issue

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The Bush administration will bow to hysteria and ban the dietary supplement ephedra. The facts of the matter evidently matter very little.

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  1. Sure am glad the nanny-staters rescued me from both that illusion and the evil drug.

    Where would we be without the state to tell us what we cannot do while we do it anyway?

  2. Goddamit. I just had to do a “lifetime buy” of the stuff. Hope I bought enough. Fucking FDA… Grrrrr.

  3. I think this is really a crack down on the US Asian community. Being that asians have used this herb for thousands of years and is still widely used (safely, I might add) among urban china towns across this nation, this ban will acutely affect them. All this under the guise of a couple millionaire sport players who have a difficult time paying up their gym membership during the offseason and are forced for instant weight loss during the hottest part of the year prior to the start of their respective seasons.

    Ah well, as the old saying goes, you can make something fool proof, but mother nature will invent a better fool!

  4. The facts of the matter evidently matter very little.

    So too, does a concern for liberty.

    The Ephedra case is a good illustration of one reason why the government should not be allowed to ban any drug or stop them from coming to market. There is just too much incentive for the government to do so. If a drug harms an individual, it’s news and every one knows but if it is efficacious and helps people it tends to be a silent success. So for the regulator, who has nothing to gain by a drug helping folks and much to lose if he/she allows the sale or the continued sale of one that winds up harming someone, the bias is compelling.

  5. Can you say “mission creep?” And “regulatory capture?”

    Where the original purpose of the FDA was to punish fraud (mislabelling or adulterated substances for human consumption, false claims of medical efficacy), it has grabbed extra power to regulate all substances which a citizen might wish to ingest. Meanwhile, Big Pharma has cozied up to them as a most excellent barrier to competition. The law which protects supplements from FDA intervention was passed when the FDA was considering actions like banning melatonin — while Big Pharma was interested in creating a patentable alternative. Junk science meets anti-competitive big business and big media….

  6. Whew, I’m glad the FDA has taken steps to restrict access to a chemical that can easily be extracted from a common North American plant. I’m sure a black market won’t develop or anything.

  7. Your headline should have read:
    FDA makes ephedra case out of dietary suppliment.

  8. Utterly silly. If you can’t read the label, then maybe your demise is for the best.

  9. RST:

    Given the Reason editorial stance against product labeling mandates, I think it’s more correct to say the following:

    “If you can’t pay for and read all the scientific literature and assimilate and analyze all the media coverage and product marketing materials on a given substance after consulting with your herbalist and healthcare providers and arrive at your own conclusions regarding its toxicity or lack thereof, then maybe your demise is for the best.”

    And looking at the past Reason articles Mr. Taylor links to, I think a weak case is being made for the contrarian position on ephedra when you have to resort to quoting paid expert witnesses for supplement makers and industry-commissioned position papers. But be my guest. It’s your ideologically-driven magazine.

  10. My take on it? Don’t ban it, but do require labeling, and by all means invite health insurers to deny coverage or optionally in the case of private insurers, charge higher premiums to anyone who uses the stuff.

  11. “…quoting paid expert witnesses for supplement makers and industry-commissioned position papers.”

    Whom?

  12. You could die from taking too much asparin too, should we ban that? Dietary supplememnts have long been known for increasing heart rate and such, so it should not come as a big surprise to anyone. How can a medical examiner even say that “the toxicity of ephedra played a significant role in the death of Mr. Bechler” and then say they don’t know how much it actually contributed? This “ideologically-driven” reader can’t understand why others read what people say and twist what they hear, and blow it out of proportion, instead looking at what is actually said. I guess that’s the problem with non-libertarians to begin with isn’t it?

  13. You could die from taking too much asparin too, should we ban that? Dietary supplememnts have long been known for increasing heart rate and such, so it should not come as a big surprise to anyone. How can a medical examiner even say that “the toxicity of ephedra played a significant role in the death of Mr. Bechler” and then say they don’t know how much it actually contributed? This “ideologically-driven” reader can’t understand why others read what people say and twist what they hear, and blow it out of proportion, instead looking at what is actually said. I guess that’s the problem with non-libertarians to begin with isn’t it?

  14. s.m.
    You want a label?
    I’ll give you a steenking label.
    Put a label on the war on drugs.
    Put a label on the FDA… a skull and crossbones in both cases.
    No other labels would be required.

  15. So when exactly will this ban take effect? I need to know how soon I need to get an order in.

  16. It’s your ideologically-driven magazine.

    I’m not a libertarian. And it says right on the bottle what ephedra can do to you. If you don’t want the risk, don’t buy the product.

  17. This majorly pisses me off. I use ephedra in spurts as an appetite suppressant. I don’t take it daily, and do not take a lot of it. Before I began swallowing it I researched it. Why, it was almost as if I was a free and autonomous woman capable of informing myself and making my own decisions about MY body. Sure am glad the nanny-staters rescued me from both that illusion and the evil drug.

  18. This majorly pisses me off. I use ephedra in spurts as an appetite suppressant. I don’t take it daily, and do not take a lot of it. Before I began swallowing it I researched it. Why, it was almost as if I was a free and autonomous woman capable of informing myself and making my own decisions about MY body. Sure am glad the nanny-staters rescued me from both that illusion and the evil drug.

  19. Once again the Bush administration shows its true colors.

    As for labeling, Mr. Koppelman, the threat of liability will always be a better and more successful incentive to provide accurate labeling than government regulations. If someone can be sued for misrepresenting their product then they are going to be forced not to misrepresent it. Government mandates simply shift the blame, if something does happen, to an organization that cannot be held liable if it screws up, except by voting — and we all know how much each person’s vote counts in national elections.

  20. I got pissed when they banned phenylpropanalomine, a diet pill ingredient that also was perfect for controlling spayed dog incontinence. Now rather than being a penny a pill it’s a dollar. Teenaged girls were abusing it. Some years before that they banned DES, another incontinence treatment, for some other reason. Basically, anything that’s useful for controlling bitch incontinence will wind up banned. I see a pattern.

  21. I can see the FDA prosecuting the ephedra industry for making false claims, or engaging in a propaganda campaign discussing the dangers of the substance (based on REAL facts and science); I can certainly see injured parties suing for wrongful death damages and the like. I cannot see either the constitutional authority or the compelling, substantiated need for the FDA to ban ephedra outright. As power-grabs go, this isn’t up there with the drug war, “Campaign Finance Reform,” or the “Prescription Drug Benefit,” but it seems just as brazen and offensive to the constitution, nevertheless.

    You know, taken together, a thousand instances of petty dictatorship can add up to one real, hateful, major dictatorship. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

  22. While we’re dumping on the FDA, let’s remember their complete silence on the increasing presence of homeopathic patent medicines in the marketplace. Such “medicines” blatantly advertise themselves for ailments like the common cold and flu while every medical scientist (despite some small, crackpot studies) knows they are of no use whatever. Why does the FDA tolerate false claims on these “medicines,” which sell in the $millions and can present false hope to those who should be seeking medical treatment? Probably because they aren’t interested in taking on the pseudoscientific homeopathy cult. And so now we see they intend to start anecdotal anti-supplement cults of their own.

  23. “Basically, anything that’s useful for controlling bitch incontinence will wind up banned.”

    Maybe you should stop fillling your biotch up with all that Red Bull and vodka. Just a thought.

  24. I spent an hour or so perusing the comments on the Yahoo story, and lo and behold, people are starting to get it! I mean random (not Libertarian) people were actually looking at the rediculousness of banning something that kills less than bees do … and the victims are usually felled by other factors in combination or by abuse.

    I mean, it is overwhelming the number of posts that feel this ban is stupid to those defendig it … normally on a Yahoo message board about any substance use usually attracts hords of neo-prohibitionists…

  25. good,

    one more reason to go to Canada!

  26. The ephedra ban is being portrayed in the mainstream media as a good thing. To me, it is terrifying. Ephedra is a naturally occurring substance. Should we ban spinach too because it contains naturally-occurring cyanide? This is ridiculous. It is the abuse that is dangerous. Ephedra is proven as an effective treatment for respiratory ailments. And… if the FDA is banning that, then why are they NOT banning its synthetic counterparts – ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – found in many OTC products? To think that people would WANT to give the government this kind of control – because of the over-use and abuse of a few, scares me to death.

    With DSHEA in place, there are already labeling requirements. How much more do we need someone else to completely control our choices and our lives?

    Spain just banned 150 herbs from being sold or marketed at all.

    Where are we headed, folks?

  27. Will we soon be able to buy Ephedra over the ‘net from Canadian companies?

    Hey look, the Bush administration just developed a new foreign aid program!

  28. Is there any where that we can still get ephedra? Please let me know. This is such a joke. My natural DR. is a brain and also agrees with this stupidity. Please someone let me know. Thanks

  29. Is there any where that we can still get ephedra? Please let me know. This is such a joke. My natural DR. is a brain and also agrees with this stupidity. Please someone let me know. Thanks

  30. EMAIL: master-x@canada.com
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    DATE: 02/28/2004 03:45:00
    Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.

  31. Can we still buy ephedra anywhere? I’ve always resorted back to it during times of need. After I had my son I used it (in conjunction with exercise and diet) and lost 95# in one year. Now I am back in school again for my MBA. I am a single mom working full time and going to school full time. I really need the energy and the help with weight loss. I’ve tried EVERY alternative out there – spent a ton of money. Nothing works. I want to get a hold of some ephedra. Can I buy it from other countries? Are there other ways to find it?

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