Published on: June 25, 2003We continue to get grief about our commentary the other day about ephedra.
MNB user Edward A. Levien wrote:
While it's true that "ephedra" can cause problems, and indeed even serious problems when the product is misused...
First and foremost, in any discussion of "ephedra" it would be helpful if you had your facts straight. And once you get the facts, you'll then see that an industry is being targeted, NOT a product.
Here are a couple of things to think about:
1. How many deaths have been DEFINITIVELY attributed to ephedra in the past ten years? None.
2. Other than the weight loss category, does ephedra (ephedrine) appear in any other products? Yes.
3. Which ones? Virtually every cold remedy product that contains pseudoephedrine.
4. Is pseudoephedrine and ephedrine the same? The FDA says they are.
5. What is the AVERAGE amount of ephedrine/pesudoephedrine found in cold remedies? 30mg per tablet (the suggested dosage is two tablets)
6. What is the AVERAGE amount of ephedrine/pesudoephedrine found in weight loss products? 12mg per tablet (the suggest serving size is one-to-two tablets)
So, if everything I've said is true (which it is) the weight loss industry should not be the ONLY target of this mass hysteria.
MNB user Stephen Quigley added:
In the article on the growing litigation against supplement manufacturers and the retailers that carry them you mention the death of a baseball player this year. That gained much negative publicity against Ephedra as the cause of his death. The facts were reported to a much lesser degree as they were not as sexy a story for the media. What I saw of the facts from various news sources was that the person in question took more than the recommended dose of the product and that he had various medical conditions that were listed on the bottle as being a cause of problems if the supplement was taken with out a medical doctors advice.
You cannot legislate against stupidity. I took a product with Ephedra in it and it helped me lose weight. My understanding is that there have been ample studies that this supplement, when taken as directed, works as claimed by most reputable manufacturers.
Regarding the Harry Potter buying experience last weekend, one MNB user wrote:
I had a similar experience as your Wal-Mart example in today's MNB trying to get the Harry Potter book. On Saturday we went into the local Borders. If you hadn't pre-reserved it, they told you that you couldn't get one, and you might be able to get one on Monday. They were nice enough to offer, however, that they heard that the Zany Brainy at the other end of the shopping center had some. So we went there. They had a lot of them for sale prominently behind the counter, and were selling them at a fast clip. And as I bought two (that's right, two) I was wondering how a big "Book" chain like Borders couldn't have the hottest product this year in stock for walk-ins, and was giving up tons of sales to a non-book competitor. They'll never get those lost sales back, because none of us is going back on Monday when they "may" have it in.
We'd offer two observations about this. First, Borders should have had enough books, but that probably isn't the fault of the people who work at the store. Second, we think they did exactly the right thing sending you to Zany Brainy…because they satisfied your need for the book, even at the cost of a sale. Long-term, that should be good for their business…
Regarding Marshall Field's decision to lease out departments at its flagship Chicago store, MNB user Paul Schlossberg wrote:
Don't think that is new...many departments (cosmetics for one) are leased in some manner to the brands being featured. This is simply a new variant on branding placements...
It wasn't just the lease that fascinated us. It was that Yahoo! was taking out department store space.
On the subject of the acquisition frenzy in the UK over Safeway Plc, one MNB user wrote:
I don’t understand the Safeway discussions. The owners of Safeway want to sell their property presumably for the highest price. UK politicians are restricting the bidders and delaying the sale thus arbitrarily reducing the value of the property and forcing the owners to absorb the loss. In effect, the politicians are confiscating people’s property for political gain and trying to justify this by unsupported economic speculations. Why has this basic fairness issue not received any attention?
Well, that's one way of putting it. You also could argue that government is stepping in to make sure that one entity does not have too much market power, because such a development could affect consumer choice and consumer prices.
Finally, we had a story yesterday about CPG companies opening their checkbooks for school districts, even funding contests in which kids would make up commercial jingles for their products. In our commentary, we wrote that "Mrs. Content Guy, who happens to be a second grade teacher, has been under the mistaken impression that she is supposed to be teaching English, math, and Social Studies, as opposed to bologna jingles. (Though she does teach money by opening a classroom store and getting the kids to make budget choices as they acquire snacks and drinks.)"
MNB user Marv Imus wrote:
Not to give offense to Mrs. Content Guy, but why NOT teach the kids a “bologna jingle” ? As for teaching math, English, Social Studies, don’t you have to use all three of those, and more, in the creation ? I cannot think of a better learning tool than having a real world experience in the creation of this jingle AND a real world reward ! Don’t the kids have to know how to reach other kids with their message ( SOCIAL studies ), the cost of the creation and delivery of the message ( math … now they may not have had to do that but it could have been a great learning tool ! ), and even the proper verbiage, or even the current slang of their target market ( English ) … I see this as a tremendous opportunity to grow a child’s thought process in the real world.
I know MANY “learned” individuals who have college degrees and more, are tremendous book learners, yet can not “step out of the box” … who knows, maybe 20 years from now Oscar Mayer may be in financial trouble and one of those kids may say to himself “I remember in third grade writing a jingle for them and I’ll bet I can rebuild that NAME back up” Warren Buffet style! Or may even give a child some reason for continuing his education so he/she can pursue a career in writing jingles ! Making education fulfilling and exciting is a sure way to beat the morass of budget cuts and un-inspiring teachers (which I am SURE Mrs. Content Guy is NOT ) …
Actually, Mrs. Content Guy (and you can imagine just how thrilled she is to be reduced to that name and have her career choices bandied about on the Internet like this) would agree with much of what Marv wrote…and she does her best to connect the classroom education to real-world events and issues.
As for being inspiring…well, all our kids should have teachers like Laura Coupe, who gives us hope about the educational system every day.
- KC's View: