Deaths associated with ephedra forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the dietary supplement in April, but apparently some stores are still selling it illegally.
A recent enforcement sweep by Florida's Department of Agriculture Consumer Services reveals some of those stores are in the Panhandle.
State inspectors recently busted three Marianna convenience stores for selling ephedra-based products. The inspectors with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also busted ten other Panhandle stores: three in Crestview and one each in Wewahitchka, Vernon, Chipley, Bonifay, Youngstown, Tallahassee and Panama City. That's seven percent of all 182 stores busted in Florida.
Ironically, an ephedra-linked death in Panama City in the late 1990's first began Florida's efforts against the supplement. The 20-year-old spring breaker's death in a hotel room was linked to an ephedra-based product.
More recently, an ephedra-based product was also blamed for the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.
"Ephedra is normally, when it's used as a weight loss drug, it's sold in combination with caffeine, and when ephedra is mixed with caffeine, it has the side effects of increased heart rate and increased blood pressure and when the heart rate and blood pressure is increased, it can lead to heart attack or stroke or just stress on the circulatory system that can lead to an eventual heart attack or stroke," says Megan Bartee, a local registered dietician.
State inspectors ordered all stores found selling ephedra-based products to pull it off its shelves. Ephedra is a naturally occurring substance used for weight loss and to heighten athletic performance.
What is Ephedra?
Source: http://www.ephedra.demon.nl (The Ephedra Site)