Campaign 2000: Bush's Diet-Drug Problem

The Governor's regulators eased up on a risky stimulant after lobbyists put money in his campaign

Not long after Governor George W. Bush named him Texas health commissioner in September 1997, William ("Reyn") Archer decided to restrict sales of dietary supplements containing ephedrine. It was a bold but logical move for the head of a nationally applauded state agency. An amphetamine-like stimulant derived from a Chinese herb, ephedrine was widely used for weight loss, but it seemed to pose serious health risks. Products with ephedrine had in the previous five years been linked to eight deaths and more than 1,400 health problems in Texas alone.

A few months after Archer's decision to crack down on ephedrine, something...

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