Illinois bans ephedra

| 5/28/2003

A new law in Illinois bans the sale of pills containing ephedra.

Ephedra is an herbal supplement frequently sold at convenience stores, and is often marketed as an “energy booster” and weight-loss aid.

Under the new law, all over-the-counter sales of ephedra would be banned except in products that receive approval from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and then only when deemed “safe and effective for its intended use” or under a label approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Office of Legislative affairs said he signed the bill into law Sunday, May 25. It unanimously passed the House May 15 and unanimously passed the Senate March 20.

Illinois lawmakers took up the cause against ephedra after Illinois student Sean Riggins, 16, died after taking the drug to enhance his performance on the football field, The Associated Press reported.

According to HealthScout, the supplement is linked to almost 100 deaths, including high school, college and professional athletes who have collapsed during games or practice. For some, the danger is especially acute.

“If you have an underlying condition that you’re not aware of, ephedra can be fatal,” Erin Smith, a Lee’s Summit, MO, pharmacist, told Land Line. “I would never recommend … any of those products.”

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark Reddig can be reached at