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Why is Ephedra banned and not Ephedrine?

ephedrine distribution is controlled by the government, and pharmacists may refuse to sell it to customers without a prescription.

In 1997, the FDA proposed a regulation on ephedra (the herb from which ephedrine is obtained), which limited an ephedra dose to 8 mg (of active ephedrine) with no more than 24 mg per day. This proposed rule was withdrawn in part in 2000 because of "concerns regarding the agency's basis for proposing a certain dietary ingredient level and a duration of use limit for these products." In 2004, the FDA created a ban on ephedrine alkaloids that are marketed for reasons other than asthma, colds, allergies, other disease, or traditional Asian use. On April 14, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah ruled that the FDA did not have proper evidence that low dosages of ephedrine alkaloids are actually unsafe, but on August 17, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver upheld the FDA's final rule declaring all dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids adulterated, and therefore illegal for marketing in the United States.


Furthermore, ephedrine is banned by NCAA, MLB, NFL, and PGA TOUR Ephedrine is, however, still legal in many applications outside of dietary supplements. However, purchasing is currently limited and monitored, with specifics varying from state to state.

The House passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 as an amendment to the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act. Signed into law by president George W. Bush on March 6, 2006, the act amended the US Code (21 USC 830) concerning the sale of ephedrine-containing products. The federal statute included the following requirements for merchants who sell these products:
  • A retrievable record of all purchases identifying the name and address of each party to be kept for two years
  • Required verification of proof of identity of all purchasers
  • Required protection and disclosure methods in the collection of personal information
  • Reports to the Attorney General of any suspicious payments or disappearances of the regulated products
  • Non-liquid dose form of regulated product may only be sold in unit dose blister packs
  • Regulated products are to be sold behind the counter or in a locked cabinet in such a way as to restrict access
  • Daily sales of regulated products not to exceed 3.6 grams without regard to the number of transactions
  • Monthly sales not to exceed 9 grams of pseudo-ephedrine base in regulated products
The law gives similar regulations to mail-order purchases, except the monthly sales limit is only 7.5 grams.

So here are the basics, all dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids are illegal in the United States. Ephedrine used in products used for asthma, colds, allergies, other disease, and/or traditional Asian use is not illegal but is highly regulated and monitored by the government.


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