MARCH 11, 2003
Ralph Nader (202) 387-8030
Shawn McCarthy (202) 387-8030
Ralph Nader and League of Fans Urge Leaders
to Take Real Action Against Ephedra and Dietary Supplement Law
- March 11 - In the aftermath of the tragic Spring Training death
of 23-year-old Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler
and the continued lack of commitment toward needed changes in
ephedra and supplement policies, Ralph Nader and League of Fans
today urged professional sports leagues, players' unions, the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Congress to take immediate
action against ephedra and the 1994 law that allows dietary supplements
to go unregulated.
should never be used as guinea pigs for dietary supplements with
no guarantee of product safety," Ralph Nader said. "How many more
ephedra-related seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and deaths have
to occur before our leaders take action?"
products that must be proven by the FDA to be safe and effective
for their intended use before marketing, the Dietary Supplement
Health & Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) frees any product that
calls itself a dietary supplement, like ephedra, from federal
regulation before they reach the consumer and does not require
manufacturers and distributors to record, investigate or forward
to the FDA any reports they receive of injuries or illnesses that
may be related to the use of their products.
repeal the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994,"
stressed Nader. "Public health and safety needs to come before
the interests of the powerful and well-funded supplement industry
that showers congressional Republicans and Democrats with political
Public Citizen's Health Research Group, ephedra is responsible
for more than 100 deaths and hundreds of other cases of serious
damage to users (many of which are extremely well-documented and
have occurred at recommended doses). There are more reports of
death, stroke, arrhythmia, heart attacks, chest pain, seizures
and hypertension for ephedra than for all other dietary supplements
leaves the burden of proof on the FDA rather than supplement companies,
the law allows the FDA to prohibit sale of a dietary supplement
if it "presents a significant or unreasonable risk of injury."
But despite the overwhelming, unequivocal evidence of the dangers
of ephedra (including more than 100 reports of death in the possession
of the FDA and the admitted legal authority for a ban), the FDA
refused a ban, proposing a warning label instead.
"It is irresponsible
that the FDA has the evidence to immediately ban dietary supplements
containing ephedra from the marketplace but still fails to do
so," Nader said. "This is another example of a government regulatory
agency falling to their knees under pressure from a powerful industry
that will continue to cause deaths and serious illnesses."
In the sports
world, the mounting, high-profile disasters involving ephedra
are well documented. Nader praised the NFL, NCAA, FIFA and the
International Olympic Committee for doing their part to prevent
ephedra-related tragedies among their athletes.
"It is encouraging
to see that there are a few principled sports leagues and governing
bodies who refuse to wait for Congress or the FDA to act," said
Nader. "Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and their respective
players' unions need to show the same leadership before more preventable
illnesses or deaths occur in professional sports from ephedra-containing
products or other potentially dangerous dietary supplements."
director of the sports industry watchdog League of Fans, advocated
for the major professional sports leagues and unions to use their
influence to lobby Congress to repeal DSHEA and pressure the FDA
to take ephedra-containing supplements off the market.
and players should tell our government to stop allowing the sports-supplement
industry to use professional athletes as test subjects," McCarthy
said. "Those companies are changing the culture of sports, and
creating a public health menace all the way down to the junior
high athletes who easily purchase and fill their lockers with
unregulated supplements and performance-enhancers so they can
be like the pros."
is a consumer advocate and author. He is the founder of League
of Fans. Shawn McCarthy is the director of League of Fans, based
in Washington, DC. The mission of League of Fans is to improve
sports by working as a sports industry watchdog to increase awareness
of the industry's relationship to society, expose irresponsible
business practices, ensure fan accountability, and encourage the
sports industry to contribute to societal well-being. The League
of Fans website is www.leagueoffans.org.
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