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NBYT to Cease Sales of Ephedra

Mar 18, 2003 | NEWSDAY

Bohemia-based vitamin manufacturer NBTY Inc. said yesterday it will no longer sell products containing the controversial herb ephedra. The company said the decision would require a one-time charge of $6 million.

NBTY's announcement came despite the Food and Drug Administration's decision not to ban ephedra-based supplements. The FDA chose recently to require a warning label on such products. Suffolk County, however, has banned sales of ephedra products, which came under increased scrutiny after the death last month of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.

"We continue to believe that ephedra products that NBTY has sold are safe to use as directed," chairman and chief executive Scott Rudolph said in a statement. "However, in light of the recent adverse publicity surrounding ephedra and the current environment in the U.S., we have decided that it is in the best interest of the company to cease selling ephedra products."

When competitor Twinlab Corp. of Hauppauge announced it would stop ephedra product sales last year, NBTY executives indicated they had no such plans. Supplements with ephedra account for about 4 percent of NBTY's sales.

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