Texas has become the first US state to require diet products containing the controversial stimulant ephedrine to include a federal toll-free number for reporting health problems, Associated Press reports.
The new rule, which took effect Saturday, requires labels on products distributed in Texas to include the number so users can report suspected side effects to the Food and Drug Administration. The dietary supplement industry is exempt from federal prescription drug regulations.
State health officials say they're enforcing the new rule, despite published reports that they suspended enforcement under advisement from the Bush administration. The FDA uses the number year-round to monitor the safety of products and to handle calls during drug scares and recalls. Set up in 1993, the line has received 18,000 calls annually for several years, FDA spokesman Lawrence Bachorik said.
''The FDA is confident that the Medwatch reporting system would be able to handle the calls that might be generated by this regulation,'' he said.