- Due to a lack of funds, the Food and Drug Administration
16 months ago quietly stopped tracking cases in which herbal remedies
had been linked to illness or death, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- Before going out of business, the monitoring system had
recorded 2,621 "adverse reactions" and 184 deaths. More than
500 adverse reactions, including 38 deaths, were linked to one product
alone -- ephedra, or ma-huang, used in weight-reduction and energy-boosting
- Last week the British medical journal The Lancet warned
that the herbal anti-depressant St. John's wort can stunt HIV treatment
and reduce the effectiveness of immune drugs that prevent transplant rejection.
- Larry Sasich, an analyst with Public Citizen Health Research
Group, says, "What we're especially worried about is that totally
untested products are coming into the market."
- The FDA formed its Special Nutritionals Adverse Event
Monitoring System in 1993 as a key element of the agency's MEDWatch program.
In the 2000 budget, the FDA requested an additional $2.5 million, specifically
to improve its dietary supplement monitoring system. But this request
was cut out by the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development,
FDA and Related Agencies.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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