Ephedra - herbal stimulant sales illegal as of Monday

Sales of the herbal stimulant ephedra become illegal in the United States on Monday, barring a last-minute reprieve from a federal judge.

The Associated Press reports that the maker of one ephedra supplement called Stacker 2, NVE Pharmaceuticals of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit last month seeking to overturn the ban, at least temporarily. The company contends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no proof that the stimulant is dangerous when used as directed.

The FDA announced the ban in December and urged consumers to stay away from ephedra, which the agency said was linked to 155 deaths and numerous heart attacks and strokes.

The FDA has a higher standard to meet for supplements than it has for drugs; drugs must be shown to be safe and effective before they are approved, while the government must show that supplements are dangerous before they can be removed from the market.

A judge is expected to issue a ruling Monday on the company's request for a temporary restraining orde.

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