Products Listing Ephedrine, Ephedrine Alkaloids Need a Prescription in Idaho

January 5, 2001

2 Min Read
Products Listing Ephedrine, Ephedrine Alkaloids Need a Prescription in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho--One state has made it so that supplements listing ephedrine or ephedrine alkaloids on their labels will no longer be sold over-the-counter (OTC). The Idaho Department of Pharmacy decided that dietary supplements that list ephedrine in any form--including ephedrine alkaloids--need a prescription in order to be sold in Idaho. However, products containing ephedra and ma-huang, but not labeled as ephedrine or ephedrine alkaloids, will remain OTC.

Until now, this has been a little-enforced rule. Rule 158 states that products that contain ephedrine are considered prescription in the state of Idaho. "It's a very unique interpretation of the law in Idaho," said Kim Smith at the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). Smith added that most states have the same sort of rule, but it is usually not applied to dietary supplements.

"[Other states] have not interpreted that rule to apply to dietary supplements," Smith explained. She added that Idaho may have made this decision to make enforcement issues more clear. NNFA has known for some time that Idaho had this rule, but it had not been concerned because it had not been enforced until now.

The main concern facing NNFA is that manufacturers may decide not to list ephedrine/ephedrine alkaloids contained in their products in order to sidestep this rule. This would not be unlawful, but it is deceiving to consumers. According to David Seckman, the executive director of NNFA, other states require that the active ingredients of a product need to be mentioned on the label. "Several states require that ephedrine alkaloids be mentioned on a product label so that the active component of the supplement is revealed. [In enforcing Rule 158,] Idaho is refusing to allow this best practice."

In the meantime, according to Smith, the worse that may happen is that ephedrine/ephedrine alkaloid products may be embargoed when they reach Idaho. NNFA recommends that ephedrine manufacturers should assess the legal and regulatory consequences before selling their product in Idaho. NNFA plans to continue working with the Department to correct its "misinterpretation" of its rule. For additional information, visit

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