Governor Urges Ban on Ephedra Sales - The Associated Press - May 14, 2003

Governor Urges Ban on Ephedra Sales
The Associated Press
May 14, 2003

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday urged lawmakers to ban over-the-counter sales of the herbal supplement ephedra.

The measure has passed the Senate and is pending in the House.

"These products are cheap, they are popular and they are widely available,'' Blagojevich said at a news conference. "They are also dangerous and pose a serious risk to both children and adults.''

Blagojevich said he would sign the measure if it came to his desk.

Sixteen-year-old Sean Riggins of Lincoln died last September after taking ephedra, a stimulant blamed for his sudden heart attack. His father, Kevin, is pushing for the statewide ban, regardless of the purchaser's age.

"The problem with age restriction is that less than 10 percent of the deaths associated with ephedra have been under the age of 18,'' Riggins said. "Age restriction means nothing.''

The Food and Drug Administration has linked ephedra, marketed as an energy supplement and weight-loss aid, to nearly 120 deaths nationwide.

"Unless it is prescribed by a doctor, you are playing Russian roulette with this product. Ephedra can kill you,'' the governor said. "There is one simple way to deal with this mess: Get ephedra off the shelves.''