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Bill targets diet pills

February 24, 1998
By: Samantha Young
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Thin is in, and the path to weight loss for some is over-the-counter diet pills.

Some state representatives, however, would like to block the access of non-prescription drugs to people under 21.

Rep. Deleta Williams, D-Warrensburg, is sponsoring a bill that would do just that.

"Girls are especially susceptible to the advertising and glamorizing of being thin," she said in front of the Public Health and Safety Committee on Tuesday. "They go to the extreme of anorexia and bulimia. People with eating disorders use weight loss pills."

Opponents of the measure argued over-the-counter diet drugs are not addictive and if taken according to the directions are not harmful.

"It (the drug) has been on the market for over 30 years, and it is safe and effective when taken as directed," said Steve Mister, assistant general counsel for the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association.

Jessica Jackson of Warrensburg, a high school senior who started taking diet pills at age 12, disagrees. Jackson was one of two high school seniors who testified in favor of the bill.

"I took the pills exactly as directed," she told the Missourian after her testimony "Nothing was happening, so I took more."

The bottom line for opponents, however, is that over-the-counter diet pills are legal and are not physically addictive.

"No state should put any regulations on legitimate non-prescription drugs," Mister said. "It would be setting a dangerous precedent."