Weight Loss Drug Safety Questioned by FDA

FDA and Industry Officials Disagree Over Ephedra

Questions are being raised as to whether the dietary supplement ephedra is safe and effective or potentially dangerous. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently outlined 100 reports of serious health problems they link to products containing the supplement. The reports, collected for almost two years, include 46 cases of cardiovascular problems-including seven deaths by cardiac arrest-and 41 cases of central-nervous-system problems such as stimulant effects and seizures.

Industry representatives criticized the FDA's data and attribute the reported health problems to underlying conditions, use of multiple products, and excessive fasting and exercise. A medical examiner that reviewed 22 deaths possibly linked to ephedra products said that all but two cases were likely caused by other medical problems.

Because ephedra is a dietary supplement, the FDA must treat it as a food supplement and not as a drug. For more information visit the Food & Drug Administration website at www.fda.gov.