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The Issue & The Need
The Issue & The Need: Overview
Dangerous Drugs in Supplements
Most Americans are unaware that designer steroids and other dangerous drugs are intentionally being sold as dietary supplements and that current law makes it too easy for these products to get to the market.
Best estimates suggest that there are hundreds of supplement products currently available that contain one or more of approximately 20 to 25 designer steroids alone.
While many mainstream supplements are made by responsible manufacturers, a growing number of supplement products contain dangerous and undisclosed ingredients, including steroids.
The real issue is that unscrupulous companies are marketing supplements spiked with these dangerous substances and advertising them as healthy products.
As a result, a growing number of Americans are becoming regular users of steroids and other dangerous drugs, while mistakenly believing that they are taking safe and legal products.
Rogue Manufacturers Mislead Consumers and Endanger Lives
These unethical manufacturers and retailers:
  • exploit the good name of an industry largely dedicated to benefiting consumers' health and nutrition;
  • exploit a regulatory system that—because it was developed years ago and could not foresee the proliferation of dangerous products under the guise of "healthy, nutritional supplements"—lacks the authority to effectively regulate these products for safety and efficacy prior to the products going to market;
  • exploit the desire of countless Americans, of all ages and athletic ability, to improve their physical and athletic performance by promising "legal" performance enhancing results;
  • profit to the tune of $2-5 billion annually; and
  • recklessly endanger the lives of consumers—known consequences of steroid consumption include liver injury, stroke, kidney failure and pulmonary embolism.
Current Regulatory Framework Inadequate to Root out Dangerous Products
The current regulatory framework was developed years ago and could not foresee the proliferation of dangerous products under the guise of "healthy, nutritional supplements."
As a result, there is no requirement for supplement manufacturers to prove a product's safety and efficacy prior to being sold to consumers. A 2007 study by HFL PDF showed that 25 percent of U.S. supplements sampled contained unlisted steroids and 11 percent contained unlisted stimulants.
Once a supplement product is in the marketplace, it is extremely difficult to remove it even when serious concerns are raised about its safety.
For example, ephedra, the most notable supplement that has been banned by the FDA under the current regulatory scheme was banned only "after thousands of adverse events, including a number of deaths, and a lengthy legal process." This led the Government Accountability Office to conclude in a report PDF: "Once the FDA has identified a safety concern, the agency's ability to remove a product from the market is hindered by a lack of mandatory recall authority and the difficult process of demonstrating significant or unreasonable risk for specific ingredients."
And, by the time the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) moves to specifically schedule a new steroid formulation, it is likely that the company will have either disappeared or will have introduced a new product with a different chemical structure.
The solution to this problem is two-fold:
  1. A regulatory framework that ensures all supplements sold over-the-counter, in retail stores and online, are safe and effective.
  2. The federal agencies regulating this industry have the tools to effectively protect consumers’ health.
For details, see our specific proposals.
Supplement Safety Now was founded by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, with support from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. We are supported by a host of organizations deeply concerned about the health and safety of Americans of all ages and athletic abilities, including the American College of Sports Medicine, American Swimming Coaches Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association, PGA Tour, The National Center for Drug Free Sport, US Lacrosse, US Tennis Association, USA Cycling, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA Track and Field and USA Triathlon.
We invite you to join our efforts and take action now.