The California Senate yesterday passed legislation by Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) to ban ephedra-containing supplements from store shelves.
The bill passed 26-13 in the 40-member Senate, with all 25 Democrats and Republican Bruce McPherson supporting the legislation. It now goes to Governor Davis who is expected to complete the ban.
"We can't afford to put any more consumers at risk," said Speier. "Ephedra is dangerous, even deadly. It is neither safe nor effective."
Similar bans of the controversial weight loss supplement have already come into force in Illinois and New York.
Earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration proposed a warning label for ephedra (already law in California) and although it has announced no further decision since closure of the 30-day comment period in April, FDA commissioner Mark McClellan recently said that the agency's final decision was near.
The herbal has however remained under media scrutiny with the much-publicized death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, whose heat stroke was linked to ephedra, and a hearing in July called by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on government oversight, which heard from industry, government and scientists, as well as professional sports leagues, and the parents of two people whose deaths were linked to ephedra.
Governor Davis has until October 12 to decide whether to sign or veto the bill (SB 582). Proponents of the ban expect him to pass it because of the intense criticism he has received over his handling of the issue. If signed, the legislation would become effective on January 1, 2004.
San Diego-based Metabolife, whose executives refused to testify at the July hearing, still maintains that the herb is safe to use as directed.