New Study Recommends 90 Milligram Daily Dose of Ephedra
In the "latest salvo in a long-running battle between supplement-makers" and the FDA over the "popular and powerful" weight-loss aid ephedra, a Council for Responsible Nutrition-funded report released yesterday indicates that dieters can safely take up to 90 milligrams per day of the herbal stimulant, the Washington Post reports. As a dietary supplement, Ephedra is not subject to the same governmental dosage regulations as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The FDA, which has linked the "controversial" stimulant to 39 deaths and "hundreds" of cases of serious illness, three years ago proposed an ephedra consumption guideline of 24 milligrams per day. The supplement industry generally recommends a maximum dosage of 100 milligrams per day, and an industry-sponsored study by Columbia and Harvard universities also recommended a 90-milligram-per-day allotment. The FDA withdrew its 24-milligram recommendation in February, after Congress discredited evidence that the agency said documented the supplement's "dangers." But since the FDA released more evidence of ephedra's dangers in March, there has been "widespread speculation" that the agency is "readying another effort at regulating dosage." FDA Director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Joseph Levitt said that the agency would review the new recommendation and "incorporate it" into the agency's "decision-making process." Other FDA officials, however, said that the agency does not have plans to issue a new rule before the end of the Clinton administration. In the meantime, supplement "ally" and House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chair Dan Burton (R-Ind.) scheduled a hearing for next week to ask FDA Commissioner Jane Henney about "her intentions" to issue a new rule (Gugliotta, Washington Post, 12/21).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.