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Judge refuses to order warnings to pregnant women on calcium supplements

February 7, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A judge refused Thursday to order warnings to pregnant women in California about lead in calcium supplements, instead giving the state 45 days to reach a settlement with the tablets’ makers.

Attorney General Dan Lungren’s office filed suit earlier in the day accusing nine companies of selling calcium supplements and antacids with levels of lead that violate a state anti-toxics law.

The companies include the makers of Rolaids, DI-GEL, Os-Cal and GNC products with calcium.

The companies denied their products contain dangerous levels of lead, which has been linked to birth defects. They joined Lungren’s office in opposing a restraining order sought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed a similar suit against 10 companies Monday.

The NRDC asked Superior Court Judge William Cahill to require immediate labels on supplements sold by nine of the companies, warning pregnant women that lead in the products can harm their fetuses.

But Deputy Attorney General Edward Weil told Cahill that a restraining order would interfere with a possible settlement. Weil also said the anti-toxics law allows private enforcement only if the attorney general is not acting diligently.

B.J. Kirwan, a lawyer for Os-Cal maker Smithkline Beecham Corp., said the company’s marketing surveys showed that a warning label would cut sales in half.

Cahill denied the restraining order and put the NRDC suit on hold for 45 days to allow time for a settlement. Roger Carrick, a lawyer for the companies, said he was optimistic one would be reached well before the deadline.

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