BICL Discontinues Kava Sales; Health Canada Issues Consumer Warning

Toronto, January 17/CNW/ - Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd. (BICL) supports Health Canada's safety advisory to consumers about the use of Kava and its potential side effects. Kava (also known as Kava-kava) is a popular herbal medicine in North America and Europe where it is often used to treat anxiety. In December 2001, due to concerns from international reports of adverse side effects, BICL was the leading member of the Canadian natural health industry to voluntarily discontinue sales of Kava. "Though there had been no serious, or even moderate, side effects reported for Kava products in Canada, customers safety was our primary concern and that is why we voluntarily stopped selling Kava and advised Health Canada immediately of our concerns." says Nancy Baines, Vice President, Consumer Health Care (BICL).

BICL Sets High Standards for Consumer Safety and Product Quality Assurance
BICL launched Kava products in Canada in 1998, after a number of clinical trials proved it to have significant analgesic and tranquilizing effects. However, BICL stopped selling it in December 2001 after being made aware of recent German reports of 24 cases of side effects during the use of Kava involving serious liver problems. Though there have been no reports of Canadians becoming ill from Kava, BICL opted in favour of consumer safety. "It is not yet clear what has caused these side effects or whether they may be due to interactions, other medications or pre-existing liver weakness. Nonetheless, the safety/benefit ratio of Kava does not show the high degree of certainly that Boehringer typically requires," reports Don Beatty, Director of Quality Control and Regulatory Affairs.

Consumer Safety First: BICL Encourages Industry Members to Cease Kava Sales
Health Canada is currently conducting a safety assessment of Kava, but in the meantime has advised consumers not to use any products containing Kava. BICL encourages fellow industry members to also discontinue Kava sales until the results of the safety assessment are made available.

BICL is a leader in the Natural Health Products industry, providing products only of the highest quality and with well-proven safety records. BICL is a leading manufacturer and distributor that works alongside other industry members and Health Canada to advocate stricter industry standards. BICL manufactures high quality Quest brand vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal preparations. The company prides itself on offering products with unsurpassed potency, purity and effectiveness thanks to rigorous quality control testing at every stage of production.

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