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Chicago Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 31--The Bush administration moved on Tuesday to ban the dietary supplement ephedra, which federal regulators first recognized as a potential danger six years ago.
The struggle to ban the herbal stimulant--which has been linked to 155 deaths--has underscored the scant oversight regulators have over the multibillion dollar dietary supplement business. More than a dozen other supplements that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed potentially hazardous remain on the market, including products linked to liver disease and neurological damage.
Administration officials who announced the ephedra decision conceded that it took too long to pull the stimulant--a move that the American Medical Association and consumer group Public Citizen had urged for years.
Officials blamed the delay on a controversial 1994 law that forbids the FDA from regulating dietary supplements as it would normal drugs.
Although the vast majority of dietary supplements are safe, including the common vitamins used by more than half of Americans, the case of ephedra has revealed a gap in the FDA's safeguards.
The ephedra ban is set to take effect 60 days after …