Welcome to Consumer Reports Advocacy

For 85 years CR has worked for laws and policies that put consumers first. Learn more about CR’s work with policymakers, companies, and consumers to help build a fair and just marketplace at TrustCR.org

Bill beefs up steroid law, but fails to include dangerous supplements

Tuesday, June 2, 2004
Contact: Janell Mayo Duncan (202) 462-6262

House Bill Beefs Up Steroid Law, But Fails to Include
Potentially Dangerous Supplements

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The expected passage today of H.R. 3866 — which would prohibit the sale of “steroid precursors” as dietary supplements, and instead require them to be regulated under the stricter Controlled Substances Act — will help protect consumers from most dangerous steroid precursors, but fails to include a popular “anti-aging” supplement that has been linked to dangerous side effects.
H.R. 3866 would update the Anabolic Steroid Control Act that restricts the sale of steroids to include most steroid precursors, including androstenedione, which has been linked to significant health risks such as liver disease, changes in red blood cell production, testicular atrophy and impotence. However, the measure excludes from stricter regulation DHEA, a popular ingredient used in anti-aging and performance enhancing supplements.
”We fail to see the reasoning behind the exclusion of this potentially dangerous supplement from the legislation,” said Janell Mayo Duncan, legislative and regulatory counsel with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “We believe that substances like DHEA, that are chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone or other anabolic steroids, shouldn’t be regulated under the lax rules governing dietary supplements because of the dangers relating to their use.”
Steroid precursors — which behave like steroids when they are processed in the body — have been sold as dietary supplements, which have little government oversight. Extremely popular among adolescents and young men seeking to increase muscle mass, steroid precursors present many of the same risks as anabolic steroids, including aggression, clotting disorders, liver damage, premature heart attacks and strokes, elevated cholesterol levels and weakened tendons.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, the law governing supplements, allows the sale of steroid precursors without a prescription. Requiring these supplements to be regulated under the Controlled Substances Act would prevent their sale without a prescription.
Consumers Union is calling on Congress to quickly pass legislation that would require FDA review of risky supplements in order to prevent dangerous products from reaching store shelves, require supplement makers to tell the FDA when they learn that their products may have caused harm, and give the agency the ability to move quickly to take dangerous supplements off the market.
“We don’t want to repeat another Ephedra incident, where it takes consumers dying, to get the government to remove dangerous supplements from the market,” Mayo Duncan said.

Read Consumer Reports story on 12 dietary supplements that, according to government warnings, are too dangerous to be on the market.
To send a free e-mail to Congress to improve the dietary supplement law, click here.