Ephedra supplements cause death in Denmark

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ephedra

The Danish Medicines Agency has issued a public warning against an
illegal ephedrine-containing supplement that has been linked with
several adverse event reports and one death.

Reported reactions to Denmark's official poisoning information service such as increased blood pressure and blood clotting were similar to those in the US that led to the substances prohibition there in 2004. Full details of the death have not been released but it is believed to be a man between the ages of 30 and 50-years-old who was using the product to lose weight. Just say no ​ The DMA has been trying to crack down on the product, called Therma Power Red, since 2006, which has led to several police busts at Danish distributors as well as fitness outlets that sold it at retail level. Some distributors had been fined 50,000 Danish kroners (€6700). It had also warned agencies in other European countries as well as relevant bodies at European Union level of its concerns and activities. The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) backed the Danish Medicinal Agency's action. "We are against the use of these illegal substances in supplements and will continue to work with regulatory authorities to ensure that such products are not available in the European market,"​ said EHPM chairman, Peter van Doorn. The Therma Red product contained ephedrine and caffeine "in extremely high concentrations"​ DMA said, and could "inflict serious damage on persons taking the products".​ The product, and others like it that include those containing unapproved hormones, are available on the internet which made them difficult to control. "You can't stop this kind of trade - it is like narcotics - all we can do is try and control it and educate the public as much as possible about the dangers of using these kinds of products,"​ the director of DMA's inspection, laboratory and enforcement division, Anne-Marie Vangsted, told NutraIngredients.com. "The problem is that one distributor is shut down and then another opens. Some operate outide Europe. It is very difficult to control. Other countries have tried to crack down on these kind of players yet still they exist." Actions ​ She said the DMA was instigating a public education programme that would include information leaflets placed at relevant outlets such as sports and fitness clubs as well as entering online chat rooms where the use of such products was discussed to disperse safety information. The poisoning information service has received around 20 adverse event reports in relation to the product in the past couple of years. Ephedrine, a stimulant and thermogenic, also known as ma huang, is banned as a food or supplement ingredient in the European Union as it is in most international jurisdictions. Ephedra supplements have been used by sportspeople and those in training environments because its 'herbal speed' associations are thought to boost performance. Its ability to raise metabolism also made it a favourite in the weight loss sector. The 2004 US ban was preceded by the death of a professional baseball player who was found to have toxic levels of ephedrine, one of the active constituents from the ephedra plant, in his system.

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