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Curr Sports Med Rep. 2004 Aug;3(4):224-8.

Medicolegal issues and ergogenic aids: trade, tragedy, and public safety, the example of ephedra and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, JCP 2557, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242-1083, USA.


On February 6, 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration banned dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids (ephedra) pending Congressional review. The ban culminates a 7-year regulatory process, the first of its kind under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This paper reviews that process, and the governing rules of DSHEA, within the contexts of modern science and the history of food and drug legislation. The example of ephedra reflects a longstanding conflict between trade and safety and suggests inherent weaknesses within DSHEA that place the public at risk.

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