GNC says it will stop selling ephedra

Friday, May 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Nutritional supplement retailer General Nutrition Centers announced Friday that it will stop selling products containing the weight-loss supplement ephedra.

GNC president Michael Meyers said the Pittsburgh-based company believes the products are safe when used as directed, but it has found more customers are using ephedra-free products. It plans to stop selling products with ephedra at the end of June.

Ephedra came under intense scrutiny after a medical examiner said it had contributed to the February death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.

The Food and Drug Administration has said there is evidence that products containing the herb can cause serious health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. The American Heart Association has urged a ban on ephedra sales, and the NFL, NCAA and International Olympic Committee have banned its use by athletes.

GNC has more than 5,300 retail stores in the United States and 26 foreign markets, including Canada and Mexico. The company is owned by Royal Numico, of the Netherlands, a baby-food maker and supplier of nutritional supplements.