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Herbal extract banned after series of deaths.


MEDICINES containing Kavakava - an extract from a member of the pepper family - are to be banned after four people died from an adverse liver reaction after taking it.

All licensed Kava-kava products in the UK and rest of Europe were removed voluntarily a year ago by the herbal industry.

It acted after it emerged there had been 70 worldwide reports of liver toxicity, which led to four people dying and seven needing liver transplants.

An order will be laid before parliament on Monday, coming into force on January 13, prohibiting the sale, supply or importation of medicinal products containing Kava-kava.

Kava-kava is derived from the plant piper methysticum and has been widely used for many years as a remedy for nervousness.

Following consultation, the Committee on Safety of Medicines has concluded that there was clear evid-ence linking it with rare cases of liver toxicity.

In the UK there have been four reports of incidents understood to be due to consumption of Kava-kava. Investigations have been unable to identify factors that would predict who was likely to have an adverse reaction.

As a result the CSM and Medicines Commission were not convinced that the risk could be reduced by measures such as label warnings.

Professor Alasdair Breckenridge, CSM chairman, said, ``Kava-kava has been under investigation for 12 months as new evidence has gradually emerged and we are grateful to the herbal sector for its voluntary withdrawal of Kava-kava products back in December last year.''

The CSM said a ban on safety grounds can be reviewed at any time if new evidence emerges.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 21, 2002
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