"This drug is a risk
to anyone who uses it," said Gov. Blagojevich. "The only way we can
protect the people of Illinois from the harm of this supplement is
to take it off the shelves and educate consumers of its possible
dangers. The bottom line is, there is no safe amount of ephedra."
Last year, the
Department of Health and Human Services commissioned the RAND
Corporation to perform a comprehensive, independent review of the
scientific studies on ephedra. The RAND study found no scientific
evidence of weight loss and no evidence that ephedra enhances
Sean Riggins, a wrestler and football player from Lincoln, Ill.,
died because he didn't know about the risks," said Blagojevich. The
only son of Debbie and Kevin Riggins, Sean consumed Yellow Jackets
prior to his death on Sept 3, 2002. "'We can't bring him back to
life, but we can fight to get this dangerous product off the
Ephedra was also
partly to blame for the death of Northwestern football star Radishi
Wheeler in 2001 and of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, who
died this past February. Thirty-three members of the military have
also died after consuming ephedra. Now, the U.S. military has banned
the sale of ephedra in all its commissaries worldwide.
Others have begun to
act. Medical groups, including the American Medical Society,
Illinois State Medical Society and the American Heart Association,
have all called for a ban on dietary supplements containing ephedra.
The ban has also been
supported by national sports organizations, including the National
Basketball Association, National Football League, National
Collegiate Athletic Association and the International Olympic
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Gov. Blagojevich also
called on the Legislature to pass the Ephedra Prohibition Act
sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and state Sen. Barack Obama,
which would make the sale of ephedra products illegal in Illinois.
"The time is now to
ban products that contain this deadly herb," said Senate sponsor
Barack Obama. "There's too much pressure in society to excel at
sports and be thin. Our children need to know a healthy diet and
exercise is always a better alternative -- especially to a
supplement that may kill them."
"The general public,
when they walk into a store, has no idea that they're purchasing
something lethal," said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz. "We should do
the right thing and take ephedra off the shelves."
At least 21 states
have passed regulations that are stricter than federal regulations
on supplements containing ephedra. Canada, Britain, Australia and
Germany have also taken steps to protect their citizens from
dangerous ephedra products.
"One of my most
important jobs is to protect you," said Blagojevich. "And I want you
to trust we will protect you from drug companies that mislead you
about their products. Whether you're 16, 46 or 76, ephedra can kill
Ephedra is by far the
most dangerous herbal drug on the market. Of all deaths linked to
herbal drugs, 60 percent are linked to ephedra. According to
published reports by Bent and others, the incidence of adverse
effects for ephedra was 720 times higher than for other dietary
supplements like ginkgo biloba and 100 times higher compared with
kava kava, an herb already known to have toxic side effects. Ephedra
remains unregulated in the state of Illinois.
Gov. Blagojevich concluded, "We should
rise to the challenge of protecting Illinois consumers from a
product where the benefits are virtually nonexistent and the risks
are potentially fatal."