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Ephedra ban OK'd
    #1556518 - 05/17/03 06:28 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)


Ephedra ban OK'd
Lincoln couple pushed for bill after son died


Legislation prohibiting the sale of dietary supplements containing the herbal stimulant ephedra passed the General Assembly late Thursday, paving the way for Illinois to become the first state in the nation to institute an outright ban.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has pledged to quickly sign Senate Bill 1418, which passed the House, 117-0. The Senate passed the bill 56-0 in March.

Ephedra-based products have been blamed for dozens of deaths, including that of 16-year-old Lincoln Community High School football player Sean Riggins, who took it along with caffeinated soda, believing his athletic performance would be enhanced.

Ephedra has been blamed for 117 deaths and 18,000 reports of adverse effects, including seizures, heart attacks and strokes. It is extracted from the Chinese herb Ma Huang and stimulates the body's metabolic rate by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels.

Ephedra products are marketed as weight-control supplements and are sold everywhere from gas stations to discount superstores. They account for more than $1 billion in worldwide sales annually.

Under the legislation, any retailer or person caught selling ephedra would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Repeat offenders would be charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The legislation applies only to dietary supplements containing ephedra. It does not affect other products that contain the herb, such as cold medications.

Illinoisans would still be able to possess ephedra, purchasing it on the Internet or buying it in neighboring states.

Passage of the bill marks the culmination of a one-man lobbying blitz by Sean?s father, Kevin Riggins. Since Sean?s death, Riggins has devoted his life to getting ephedra supplements off store shelves, taking time off his job to lobby legislators, testify in committees and speak to high school students about the dangers of ephedra.

Sean died Sept. 3 of massive heart failure after taking an undetermined number of Yellow Jackets, an ephedra- and caffeine-based pill that he had bought at a Lincoln convenience store. His friends said he took the pills to gain energy for a football game.

House members on Thursday applauded Kevin Riggins and his wife, Debbie, during the debate and after the vote for their persistence in pushing the bill.

?The Rigginses are an army unto themselves in trying to send a message to people in the state of Illinois that if we put products on the shelves, the public believes they?re safe. This is not the case with ephedra,? said House sponsor Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

After the vote, an emotional Kevin Riggins hugged his wife and tried to fight back tears.

?It?s great. I can?t even find the words for it right now,? he said.

Opposition to the bill was virtually non-existent. Several companies that manufacture ephedra products sent lobbyists to Springfield, but Rep. Bob Biggins, R-Elmhurst, said they were ?realistic? and could ?read the writing on the wall.?

Jan Strode, spokeswoman for the dietary supplement Metabolife, said that her company supports legislation in other states prohibiting ephedra sales to minors, but that an outright ban is shortsighted because studies show there are no serious adverse effects if it is taken correctly.

?Adult Americans in Illinois will now be deprived of their freedom to make an educated choice in using ephedra products for safe and effective weight control,? Strode said.

Ephedra was placed in the national spotlight after the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler in February. The 23-year-old died of heat stroke after taking three ephedra capsules before a spring training game in Florida.

After Bechler?s death, the Federal Drug Administration studied whether a nationwide ban is necessary and continues to do so. In February, the agency recommended stronger warning labels for ephedra products.

Feigenholtz said the legislation should be a wake-up call for a federal ban of ephedra.

?This landmark legislation sends a strong message to the FDA and (Health and Human Services Secretary) Tommy Thompson, two entities dragging their feet on banning this product that is essentially legal speed,? Feigenholtz said.


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Re: Ephedra ban OK'd [Re: motaman]
    #1556692 - 05/17/03 09:08 PM (15 years, 1 month ago)

> Ephedra has been blamed for 117 deaths

That's not a very high death rate in a country with over 250 million people. I think they should ban driving automobiles instead -- that's the real killer... :crazy:

While we're on the subject, how many lives are lost each year to stupid legislation? Maybe we should just ban legislators instead... I dunno, just thinking aloud... :wink:


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Re: Ephedra ban OK'd [Re: Papaver]
    #1557399 - 05/18/03 07:44 AM (15 years, 1 month ago)

You are right. That's so hypocrite. Many many more people die of alcohol each year. But there are to many voters who enjoy alcohol so they won't ban that. Many more Americans die of overeating eacht year. Let's ban McDonalds.

All the free-minded induviduals on the world should combine, buy a big island and start their own Utopia :smile:


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