California Governor Gray Davis has signed SB 582, a bill that will ban sales in California of dietary supplements that contain any amount of ephedrine group alkaloids from January 1, 2004.
The sale of supplements containing ephedrine group alkaloids - ephedra - has until now been permitted in California to adults over the age of 18 years of age.
Governor Davis had until 12 October to sign or veto the bill after the legislation was introduced last month by Senator Jackie Speier amid both public and industry concern about the health risks linked to the use of ephedra-based supplements for weight loss, body building and performance enhancement.
Earlier this year Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler's heat stroke and subsequent death was linked to ephedra and in July the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee called a hearing 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.
The law does not apply however to over-the-counter or prescription drugs that contain ephedrine alkaloids and such products will continue to be readily available in the state.
In addition, licensed health care practitioners will be exempted from the ban, except that the legislation places a statutory restriction on such practitioners' scope of practice by specifically criminalizing their dispensing of ephedrine-containing supplements for weight loss, body building, or athletic performance enhancement.
The law also clearly states that sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedrine alkaloids directly to a licensed health care practitioner and to a licensed pharmacist will continue to be legal when the product is destined for the treatment of patients under the direct care of a health care practitioner.
The bill as passed by the California legislature can be found at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.