FDA declares nicotine lollipops illegal

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

AP Medical WriterWASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration cracked down on Internet sellers of nicotine-laced lollipops and lip balm Wednesday, declaring them illegal and ordering that three pharmacies stop sales immediately.

The lollipops in particular pose a risk to children because they look like regular candy, the FDA warned.

"The quantity of nicotine could be potentially dangerous to a small child," said FDA attorney David Horowitz.

He urged smokers to switch to FDA-approved smoking-cessation products. The agency can't say for sure if the lollipops pose an immediate health risk to adult smokers, because they are made with a different form of nicotine than is found in nicotine gum, patches or other approved products. That form of nicotine has not been tested for safety.

That alone makes the lollipops and lip balm illegal to sell, but the Internet pharmacies also had been wrongly dispensing them without a doctor's prescription, the FDA said.

The FDA gave the three pharmacies 15 days to tell the government they're stopping sales or risk further legal action. The pharmacies are Ashland Drugs in Ashland, Miss., Bird's Hill Pharmacy in Needham, Mass., and The Compounding Pharmacy in Aurora, Ill.

The FDA is reviewing other unconventional nicotine products, such as a Virginia company's nicotine lozenge, to see if they also qualify as drugs being sold illegally.

"I didn't know there'd be a problem" with selling the lollipops, said Larry Melton, owner of Ashland Drugs, who said he created them because customers had requested alternatives to gum or patches.

He said he quit selling them Wednesday upon receiving the FDA's warning letter, to the disappointment of customers and some doctors who last week had begun giving smokers prescriptions for them.

----On the Net:

Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/

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