June 19, 2003
NEW YORK--On June 12, the New York State Senate passed legislation to ban ephedra supplements. The bill (S 3294A) was sponsored by Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick). The legislation would not apply to prescription drugs containing ephedra. It would also establish a civil penalty of not more than $500 per violation for ephedra supplement sales.
A local youth from Northport was used as an example for why this bill was necessary to safeguard the health of New York citizens. The 20-year-old had been using an ephedra-based muscle-building supplement that had no recommended dosage on the label. The cause of Peter Schlendorf's 2001 death, according to the coroner, was "cardiac arrhythmia caused by an herbal supplement containing the drug ephedra."
At a recent public hearing held by New York's Senate Consumer Protection Committee, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. Selig said that although banning ephedra was not in his power (rather, it is within the sports unions'), he urged the senate to adopt appropriate regulations that would "have the effect of making it more difficult for young people, as well as professional athletes, to use dangerous products such as ephedra."
Following the New York Senate's approval, the bill was sent to the State Assembly, where it had its third reading as of June 17. The justification for pushing this law, according to the bill's language, was because "The passage of the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) greatly restricted the FDA's [Food and Drug Administration] authority over any product labeled as a supplement."
According to New York-based attorney Marc Ullman, this attack on DSHEA is not surprising. "As an industry, we have done an abysmal job of getting the word out on DSHEA. The trade associations are attempting to, but more calls and letters are needed from industry members to protect this act."
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