Ephedra - guilty or not?

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Major league baseball, Ephedra

The industry is facing increased pressure after last week's
coroner's report which found that an ephedra dietary supplement
contributed to the death of Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Steve
Bechler last month.

The industry has faced increased pressure after last week's coroner's report which found that an ephedra dietary supplement contributed to the death of Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Steve Bechler last month.

Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said on Thursday that the 23-year-old player died of multi-organ failure caused by complications from heatstroke, which was caused partly by the consumption of Xenadrine.

Perper said that "significant amounts" of ephedrine were found in Bechler's blood along with small amounts of pseudo-ephedrine and caffeine. He added that the toxicity of ephedra played "a significant role" in the death of Bechler, but was unable to define the relative importance of the risk compared to other possible factors.

Xenadrine is made by Cytodyne Technologies, which still claims the product is safe when taken as directed.

Wes Siegner, general counsel of the Ephedra Education Council, said the "rush to blame Ephedra was not science-based. Health policy concerning Ephedra should be based on scientific evidence."

Siegner also referred to the recent Rand report which "confirms that more than 55 clinical studies support the safety and benefits of the ephedra/caffeine combination, when taken as directed by overweight, but otherwise healthy individuals."

"In the past, the industry has expressed its support for sports leagues that choose to prohibit the use of Ephedra. Professional athletes are often under great pressure to perform. These athletes should avoid, and if necessary be protected from, the temptation to misuse Ephedra products that are otherwise widely and safely used to the benefit of American consumers,"​ added Siegner.

Ephedra has already been banned by many sports organizations, including the National Football League and the International Olympic Committee, but not by Major League Baseball.

The FDA recently released proposals concerning tighter marketing regulations for ephedra supplements, and the possible inclusion of strict labeling which refers to health risks including heart attack and even death. However supplements containing the herb are still available without prescription.

At least 100 deaths are thought to have been caused by ephedra.

Related topics: Regulation

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