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Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal of Ban on Weight-Loss Supplements

Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal of Ban on Weight-Loss Supplements

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by dietary supplements maker Nutraceutical International, which sought to overturn a federal ban on the weight-loss aid ephedra.

The court's decision, issued without comment, lets stand a 2006 ruling by a federal appeals court that upheld the Food and Drug Administration's 2004 ban.

Shares of Nutraceutical fell 5 cents to $16.07 in morning trading.

Ephedra was marketed in the 1980s and 1990s as a weight-loss supplement and an aid to athletic performance. The FDA began receiving reports in the late 1990s, however, of major side effects from ephedra use, including heart attacks, strokes and death, according to court papers filed by the government.

The FDA banned the supplement after determining that it presented an unreasonable risk of illness or injury at any dose.

In challenging the ban, Park City, Utah-based Nutraceutical International Corp. argued that ephedra did not present significant risks at the low dosage levels it recommended, and charged that the FDA did not fully investigate the herbal supplement's effects at lower levels of use.

Nutraceutical also said the FDA overstepped its regulatory authority and, under the standards and tests it used, almost any herbal supplement could be banned.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled last year that the FDA had acted properly when it imposed the ban. The agency "found that the weight loss and other health benefits possible from the use of (ephedra) were dwarfed by the potential long-term harm to the user's cardiovascular system," the appeals court said.

The case is Nutraceutical Corp. v. Eschenbach, 06-922.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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