Health Canada has requested a recall of certain products containing ephedra or ephedrine following research which showed that they posed a serious health risk. The risk assessment showed that ephedra or ephedrine could cause strokes, heart attacks, heart rate irregularities, seizures, psychoses and possibly death.
Not all products containing ephedrine are included in the voluntary recall. Health Canada's principal concerns are about products with recommended doses exceeding 8 mg per serving and/or 32 mg/day, as well as combination products containing stimulants and products promoted for weight loss, bodybuilders or increased energy.
Products such as nasal decongestants and products used in traditional medicine are not covered by the recall, providing that they do not contain caffeine or exceed the 8 mg/dose and/or 32 mg/day recommendations. Products dispensed by practitioners are also unaffected.
The health agency has also called on all Canadian manufacturers, distributors and importers of products containing ephedra or ephedrine to discontinue their sale. Ephedra products that are already on store shelves will be recalled.
The recall of the drugs is voluntary, although a spokesman for Health Canada said that manufacturers and importers complied with such requests 99% of the time. He added that those who do not comply would have their products seized by the government.