Assembly Approves Bill To Ban Ephedra Products
The Assembly yesterday voted 44-23 to approve a bill (SB 582) that would ban the sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedra, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/9). Health authorities say ephedra has caused deaths, strokes, heart attacks and other serious side effects. The Senate in May voted 24-14 to approve SB 582 (California Healthline, 5/13). The bill, which the Assembly approved with the backing of Democrats and two Republicans, returns to the Senate for consideration of Assembly amendments. Russell Lopez, spokesperson for Gov. Gray Davis (D), said that Davis has not yet decided whether he would sign the legislation. However, advocates for the bill say they expect he will sign it because Davis, who received $100,000 in campaign contributions from San Diego-based ephedra manufacturer Metabolife International, was sharply criticized for his initial veto of a bill in 2000 that would have required warning labels on ephedra products and would have banned the supplement's sale to minors. Davis later reversed his position on that bill after the company came under federal scrutiny over withholding 13,000 reports of ephedra-related health problems.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), said the Assembly's passage of the bill sends "a powerful message ... to Congress and the FDA that when they don't act, the rest of the country will take action to save people's lives." Illinois and New York already have banned ephedra sales. However, the measure's opponents say a ban on sales would encourage people to purchase ephedra products online and "deprive the cash-starved state of sales tax," the Union-Tribune reports. Metabolife spokesperson Jan Strode said yesterday that the company is disappointed by the vote and maintains that "our ephedra products are a safe and effective tool for weight loss when used as directed" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.