WAYNE, NJ: A company that markets a product similar to recently banned weight loss aid ephedra has hired an agency to respond to safety concerns.
Nutratech, an ingredient supplier to the dietary supplement and nutrition industries, is working with Pawtucket, RI-based ES Miller / Marketing Communications on a media relations campaign that will target both consumers and manufacturers.
Nutratech?s Advantra Z has been under fire since last summer, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating herbal weight loss products that contain a compound called bitter orange.
?There?s an intonation that bitter orange is unsafe; that couldn?t be further from the truth,? said Bill Arthur, a marketing consultant at Nutratech. ?There is no comparison between ephedra and bitter orange.?
Ellen Miller, principal at the agency, noted that the two compounds are ?chemically similar and pharmacologically not similar.?
The FDA banned ephedra in December 2003 because of its ability to cause heart attacks, seizures, and strokes.
The weight loss aid and stimulant received high profile attention when it was implicated in the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.
But Arthur noted that bitter orange does not affect the central nervous system in the same way as ephedra, and has even been approved in small amounts as a food flavoring.
But manufacturers, he said, have been ?skittish? about making the product since the FDA launched its investigation. Nutratech, therefore, is targeting not only the mainstream media, but also the industry trade publications.
?We feel that PR is the best way to address that kind of issue,? he said.
Miller noted that the company would promote the research studies on bitter orange, and ?align ourselves with experts in the field.?
It is also working with dietary supplement trade group, the American Herbal Products Association.