DEATH OF GIRL FUELS ENERGY-PILLS CONCERN.Byline: Jane E. Allen Associated Press
A distraught father got the call on his cellular telephone and followed an ambulance to the hospital after his 15-year-old daughter, Rosanna, inexplicably collapsed during soccer practice.
Only when he asked her friends and teammates for help did Henry Porras learn that his daughter had downed a few over-the-counter herbal energy pills with the brand name Ripped Fuel that are popular with adult bodybuilders and dieters.
``All the kids'' in Fillmore were taking Ripped Fuel pills, several of the boys told Porras.
Until that night, few of them realized the legal amphetamine-like substance can raise blood pressure, disturb heart rhythms and produce a heart attack.
As Dr. Robert Dekkers struggled to save Rosanna's life, Porras drove to a nearby drugstore and bought a $30 bottle of Ripped Fuel capsules, which contain the Chinese herb ma huang ma huang (mah hwahng´) [Chinese] any of various species of Ephedra used as herbs in Chinese medicine.
ma huang (mä hwäng),
and are marketed as ``natural'' supplements.
He handed them to Dekkers, who said they looked just like the partly dissolved gray capsules he had pumped from Rosanna's stomach.
``This stuff will kill you,'' Dekkers later warned Rosanna's worried pals.
Three days later, Rosanna was dead.
Ma huang contains ephedra ephedra: see ephedrine. , a plant version of ephedrine ephedrine (ĭfĕd`rĭn, ĕf`ĭdrēn'), drug derived from plants of the genus Ephedra (see Pinophyta), most commonly used to prevent mild or moderate attacks of bronchial asthma. taken for colds and asthma. It acts like speed by revving up the nervous system and metabolism: ``It gives you a rush and burns up calories faster,'' Dekkers explained.
As experts are seeing nationwide, such a boost can be deadly.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has collected reports of 34 deaths among more than 900 incidents associated with dietary supplements containing ephedrine, including Ripped Fuel.
Ross Blechman, president of Twinlab Inc. of Hauppauge, N.Y., marketers of Ripped Fuel, said the company believes Rosanna's death was unrelated to use of its product.
``We do not believe Ripped Fuel had any role in this tragic occurrence,'' he said in a statement released Friday through a public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most firm. ``Ripped Fuel has a long history of safe use as a dietary supplement when taken as part of a low-fat, low-calorie diet and exercise program to help preserve lean body mass.''
The Fillmore death suggests the product is being used by a younger and perhaps more vulnerable crowd, despite a label that warns: ``Not intended for use by persons under the age of 18.''
In fact, several of Rosanna's friends admitted to Dekkers that they took the capsules for energy during sports and to lose weight.
Rosanna's death persuaded Mike Bynum, a 17-year-old football player at Newbury Park High School, to throw out the Ripped Fuel he used to get through game practice last summer.
``It's just a sport,'' he told The Ventura County Star. ``It's not worth risking anything.''
Last Wednesday, the Porras family buried Rosanna, a competitor in soccer, volleyball and track, and the president of her freshman class at Fillmore High School Coordinates:
Fillmore High School is a secondary school that is located in the Santa Clara River Valley in Fillmore, California. It can be found by the middle of California State Route 126 between Ventura and Valencia, California. . More than 600 people attended the funeral.
Now, all Porras can do is speak out in the hope his daughter's death might offer a potent warning to others.
She had just purchased a summer wardrobe and ``didn't have $30'' to buy Ripped Fuel, her dad said. He suspects she and her teammates shared a supply.
Porras also learned that a few weeks before his daughter's death, her community soccer coach took another girl out of a game when she developed side effects Side effects
Effects of a proposed project on other parts of the firm. from Ripped Fuel.
Porras figures teen athletes consider the capsules ``no more than a Power Bar'' for a quick recharge.
Although preliminary toxicology tests haven't found ephedra - or any drug - in Rosanna's blood, Deputy Coroner Larry Gillespie of Santa Barbara County believes ``there was a connection between the stuff she was taking and her death.''
His autopsy revealed a startling star·tle
v. star·tled, star·tling, star·tles
1. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
2. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten. fact: Rosanna suffered a massive heart attack days before she kicked a soccer ball and slumped to the ground.
Dekkers, an internist internist /in·tern·ist/ (in-ter´nist) a specialist in internal medicine.
A physician specializing in internal medicine. and pediatrician, said the attack, which could have been passed off ``as growing pains grow·ing pains
Pains in the limbs and joints of children or adolescents, frequently occurring at night and often attributed to rapid growth but arising from various unrelated causes. ,'' weakened her heart. The ``additional ephedrine, plus physically exerting herself on the soccer field,'' produced cardiac failure cardiac failure: see congestive heart failure. .
Although he revived her at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, she already had suffered significant brain damage and died April 9 at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.
Gillespie has been consulting with the medical examiner A public official charged with investigating all sudden, suspicious, unexplained, or unnatural deaths within the area of his or her appointed jurisdiction. A medical examiner differs from a Coroner in that a medical examiner is a physician. in Boston, where in April 1996 a 23-year-old graduate student and athlete suffered fatal heart damage linked to ephedrine from Ripped Fuel.
The FDA FDA
Food and Drug Administration
n.pr See Food and Drug Administration.
n.pr the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. is investigating Rosanna's death, said spokesman Arthur Whitmore in Washington. ``This is the youngest case I know of.''
Whitmore said the FDA expects this fall to restrict the marketing of ephedrine products, limit dosages, and ``ban any claim that would encourage long-term use,'' such as for bodybuilding bodybuilding
Developing of the physique through exercise and diet, often for competitive exhibition. Bodybuilding aims at displaying pronounced muscle tone and exaggerated muscle mass and definition for overall aesthetic effect. or weight loss.
It's already banned in National College Athletic Association and Olympic competition.
At Fillmore High, coach and health teacher Matt Suttle said kids tend to think ``if you can buy it over the counter, it's got to be safe.''
Jody Brylinsky an associate sports studies professor at Western Michigan University Western Michigan University, at Kalamazoo, Mich.; coeducational; founded in 1903 as Western State Normal School, became accredited in 1927 as a college, gained university status in 1957. , fears kids may turn to such products for weight loss because coaches instill the misguided message ``if you're smaller, you'll be more successful.''
At 15, Rosanna was ``probably most vulnerable,'' said Brylinsky, ``trying to maintain that athleticism while going through basic changes'' of adolescence.