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FDA Plans Closer Look at Diet Supplements

Jan 21, 2004 |

On the heels of its high-profile move to ban ephedra, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to increase scrutiny of other herbal diet supplements that could cause significant health problems, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan said.

The agency will issue new guidelines on the manufacture and labeling of herbal diet supplements later this year, CNN quotes McClellan as saying Tuesday during a speech in Mississippi.

He said the FDA will investigate three common ingredients in particular that have been associated with kidney and liver problems: bitter orange, aristolochic acid and usnic acid, CNN reports.

Unlike prescription and over-the-counter drugs, diet supplements do not have to be proven safe before they are marketed. But the FDA does have the authority to investigate and remove from store shelves any supplement it deems a threat to public health.

The pending ban on ephedra, an amphetamine-like herb, was announced Dec. 30. Weight-loss supplements containing the substance have been linked to more than 100 cardiac-related deaths, including that of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler last year.

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