Ephedra makers fighting critics of product's safety

NEW YORK: Weeks after diet pills containing the stimulant ephedra were found in Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler's locker following his death, the PR teams representing such products are still working to snuff the fire.

NEW YORK: Weeks after diet pills containing the stimulant ephedra were found in Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler's locker following his death, the PR teams representing such products are still working to snuff the fire.

World Satellite Television News is the AOR for Cytodyne Technologies, which makes Xenadrine RFA-1 - the top-selling weight-loss supplement that contains ephedra. This was the brand found in Bechler's locker.

"The press killed us when this story first broke," admitted Bryan Glazer, president of the agency. "But now logic is beginning to dictate, because we've been able to get reporters to look at the real facts."

World Satellite used an electronic press kit that it had prepared in the event that a negative story about ephedra should break. It included manufacturing footage, accounts from product users, and a statement from an endocrinologist discussing how important it is for patients to read warning labels.

Bechler suffered from high blood pressure which, as is clearly stated on the label, means he never should have been using the product. Still, early last week, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig banned the use of ephedra by minor-league players. The NFL and NCAA also prohibit its use.

Colburn Aker, president of Aker Partners , agency of record for the Ephedra Education Council, said, "We need to raise awareness about how to use these products correctly, not pull them from the shelves." According to Aker, "There are many Americans for whom ephedra has been very helpful in their battles against obesity," which continues to be a pressing epidemic in the US.

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