Teen Herbicide

| July 11, 2003

?It kind of makes our war on drugs look like a joke,? says Kevin Riggins, the father of Sean Riggins, a 16-year-old Illinois football player who died of heart failure after taking an ephedra supplement. ?They say marijuana is a gateway drug, and the most horrible thing on the planet, but we let this other stuff out there that?s killing people.? Chris Mooney writes on MotherJones.com that although the natural stimulant ephedra is ?clearly the most dangerous,? it?s just one of many unregulated dietary supplements currently being marketed to teens wanting to improve their sports performance, or simply trying to be thin and beautiful. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), enacted in 1994, allows any herbal remedy, vitamin, or supplement to be sold without first being proven safe or effective by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA can take action only if a supplement has already been proven dangerous, but manufacturers aren?t even required to report adverse effects to the FDA. ?We believe it?s a public-health crisis,? says Iris Shaffer of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, ?because what these kids are doing today, we?re going to be seeing in doctors? offices in 10 or 15 years.?
?Anne Geske

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