Health Canada said yesterday it is reminding the public about the health risks of taking ephedra-based products for reasons other than nasal decongestion, after complaints that some products subject to a 2002 recall continue to be to sold to Canadian consumers.
Meanwhile in the US, a second New York County, Westchester, voted to ban the sale of ephedra-containing dietary supplements last week.The county had previously prohibited the sale of ephedra to minors. Suffolk County in New York state also issued a similar ban earlier this year.
Health Canada first issued an advisory for Canadians not to use certain products containing ephedra in January 2002. The agency also recalled all ephedra products with caffeine or stimulants, or those over the maximum allowable dosage of 8mg ephedrine for a single dose or 32mg ephedrine per day, after it concluded that these products pose a serious risk to health.
Ephedra or ephedrine products with implied and unproven claims for appetite suppression, weight loss promotion, metabolic enhancement, increased exercise tolerance, body-building effects, euphoria, increased energy or wakefulness, or other stimulant effects were also recalled.
While the agency has apparently seen the removal of over 250,000 products containing ephedra to date, it says illegal products are still being sold under the counter, in back rooms and at gyms. It also reports that some retail employees have been selling consumers legally available ephedra products (eg. for nasal decongestion and not exceeding maximum allowable doses), and advising them of ways to obtain the same effect as those products subject to the recall. This activity is also illegal, says Health Canada.
The agency is considering other enforcement actions to address the illegal sale of ephedrine products and has asked retailers, manufacturers and distributors to help reduce the supply and demand of the recalled products by co-operating with their removal from the market.
Consumers have been asked to report retail outlets that carry these products or are involved in illegal activities relating to these products.