The Ephedra Education Council (EEC) has made public a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services and signed by 25 physicians, endorsing ephedra's safety and use by patients for weight loss. The letters call on HHS for the continued sale of legal ephedra supplements and federal labeling standards for the products in order to protect the market for the many supplements based on the herb.
Following recent evidence highlighting the dangers of ephedra, and trials against some suppliers of the herb, many companies are moving to offer alternatives to ephedra, in anticipation of declining sales of products derived from the herb.
According to the EEC, the physicians backing its letter all practice medicine in local communities throughout the nation, including Washington, Baltimore, Long Island, Dallas, and Las Vegas.
The physicians cite their patients' struggles with obesity and their need for continued access to ephedra products. The letter states: "Ephedra is one of the few options available to my patients who need to lose weight and who have been unsuccessful in doing so through exercise and diet alone."
There are references to reviews of current scientific data combined with their own patient observations, which have led them to conclude that ephedra supplements are safe and beneficial when used according to industry or physician recommendations.
The letter continues: "I have seen positive and sometimes dramatic effects in my patients.." [who have taken ephedra]. "In addition to witnessing successful, long-term weight loss…I have seen their overall health improve, as measured by healthier cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure."
The letter urges continued availability of the products, but with appropriate label instructions. "Prohibiting the sale of legally marketed ephedra products would have a negative impact on public health, and on the personal health of my patients. I urge you to support product labeling initiatives that specify serving limits and direct certain consumers to consult with health professionals before taking Ephedra."
The physicians also note efforts to prevent marketers such as Yellow Jacket from advertising and selling illegal ephedra products as alternatives to street drugs.
Rates of obesity in the US are rising so rapidly that it has recently been declared a national epidemic by the Surgeon General.