ILLEGAL DRUGS: House Votes to Add GHB to List
A bill that would place gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a dietary supplement, also used as a "date rape" drug, on the government's top list of illegal drugs passed the House yesterday by a 329-2 vote. Advertised as a dietary supplement, GHB reputedly promises "everything from sound sleep to bigger muscles and better sex." But FDA research shows GHB and its analogues are responsible for 58 deaths, and since August 1999, the agency has received 122 reported cases of serious abuse from health professionals nationwide. The bill passed the Senate on a unanimous vote late last year, and chief sponsor Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said President Clinton has indicated that he would sign the measure, which will make possession, production and distribution of GHB punishable with up to 20 years incarceration (Gugliotta, Washington Post, 2/1). The measure would grant the DEA federal criminal prosecutory authority for the first time against those in violation of the bill. Currently, GHB is considered a controlled substance in 20 states. Calling the drug "dangerous and sometimes fatal ... used to facilitate sexual assaults," Upton said the number of GHB-related deaths is up from one in 1990 to 17 in 1999 (Strong, Associated Press, 2/1).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.