Health Canada on Wednesday requested a voluntary recall of a wide range of drug products containing the herb Ephedra or its chemical derivative ephedrine claiming that large amounts "pose a serious risk to health." The Canadian health regulatory agency said it has written to manufacturers, distributors and importers requesting they recall products that do not meet federal guidelines on the herb, which is found in many weight-loss and body-building drugs.
It has also asked Canadian customs officials to help ensure that these products are not imported and has advised people who may be consuming them to stop. Health Canada said that since last June, there have been 60 reports of adverse affects such as heart attacks, heart rate irregularities, seizures, psychoses and even death.
Other commonly used products that contain Ephedra or ephedrine, such as nasal decongestants, are mainly unaffected and will continue to be available because they contain safe amounts.
The maximum allowable dosage is 8 milligrams (mg) Ephedra/ephedrine per single dose or 32 mg per day.
In 1997, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed limiting the use of ephedra, linking it to strokes and other serious side effects. US dietary supplement groups have insisted ephedra products are safe when used as directed.
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