L.A. Times Examines Herbal Supplement Industry, Debate
The Los Angeles Times today examines the "largely unregulated" herbal supplement industry, which has "grown rapidly in recent years" and faces legal scrutiny. Sales of supplements have nearly doubled, to $16 billion per year, since 1994, when Congress passed a law exempting supplements from most federal regulation. Currently, herbal supplements are not required to be tested by the FDA and do not need to undergo testing to prove their safety. Supplement manufacturers are not required to report "adverse reactions" to their products to the FDA. The agency relies on voluntary reporting by physicians and people using the products to track the reactions to their products.
The Times examines the case of Rosie Talbert, a 41-year-old Anchorage woman who in 1998 sued E'Ola International, makers of AMP II diet drops, after she suffered a stroke while playing volleyball in 1995. Talbert had been using AMP II, which contains ephedrine and caffeine, three times each day in her coffee. In the first-ever lawsuit over ephedrine to go to trial, jurors voted 10-2 for E'Ola, which claimed there was "no scientific method" that proved their product could be linked to Talbert's stroke. However, after further evidence against ephedrine was released in two studies, Talbert returned to court against E'ola in 2001. In the second case, jurors ruled 11-1 in favor of Talbert, awarding her $13.3 million (Herndon, Los Angeles Times, 4/4).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.