First, thank you to our friends, colleagues and all of you who have been reading our new blog. We have enjoyed writing it and sharing some of our thoughts on important topics in a new and exciting forum. We were not sure what to expect when starting this concept but have been pleasantly surprised by the readership. We hope to keep you interested and inspired with our thoughts, and perhaps make a small impact on the relevant issues in the process.
We have noticed that many of you appear passionate about dietary supplements as we are. We have worked for many years on issues related to such products and continue to do so today. While the majority of manufacturers produce reputable supplements, there is a subset that continues to work around the current regulations and produce potentially dangerous products.
We have dealt first-hand with the dangers, which include numerous cases of serious liver failure caused by the uneducated or unintended use of powerful steroids. Most of these occur in our youth, college or high school students looking for the body beautiful quick fix who stumble upon the wrong supplement on the Internet and cause serious harm to themselves. Many of these come from methlyated steroids, which sadly remain widely available on the Internet today, despite the fact they are well known.
We focused on the issue in a previous post, Despite numerous efforts to the contrary, prohormones remain widely available today. At that time one of the sites we visited, http://www.nutritionarsenal.com/Search.aspx, was selling 84 products listed as prohormones. We visited the site again recently and found 99 products now listed as prohormones. Amazingly, 15 new products that are likely illegal steroids or aromatase inhibitors in disguise have appeared on one website in two months time. Sure, this is the holiday season of retail but this explosion seems ridiculous. In a quick review, at least 75% of the 99 products appear to contain active ingredients that are likely powerful steroids. That’s right: 75% contain steroids.
Some of these appear to be new compounds altogether, which we are exploring, but others are simply old steroids with new and confusing nomenclature. A simple example with the compound methasterone, also known under the name Superdrol and Methylmasterdrol, explains the situation well.
Methasterone became popular several years ago. The FDA deemed the compound to be a synthetic steroid and warned one of the companies that produced it. The following is an excerpt from the March 8, 2006 FDA warning letter:
“This letter relates to your product Anabolic Xtreme Superdrol, containing the synthetic steroid methasteron. The product label and your Internet website, http://www.anabolicx.com, state that this product is “anabolic” and list methasteron as an ingredient. Further, your website includes statements about this product such as the following:
- “Many people have packed on pounds of lean mass and increased their strength while using this potent supplement . . . .”
- “The average user will gain between 6-10 pounds in as little as three weeks.”
Although Anabolic Xtreme Superdrol is not currently available on your website, where it is marked “Discontinued,” it is still being distributed in interstate commerce with a label that lists your firm name and website. The product label and your website represent this product as a dietary supplement. However, the product cannot be a dietary supplement because the active ingredient used in the product, methasteron, is not a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical, or dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake, nor is it a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any dietary ingredient described above. Rather, it is a synthetic steroid. Consequently, methasteron is not a “dietary ingredient” as defined in Section 201(ff)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 USC 321(ff)(1)], and your product is not a dietary supplement because it does not contain a dietary ingredient.”
The active compound present was 2a, 17a-Dimethylandrostane-3-one-17b-ol. The compound on the label was written as 2a, 17a di methyl etiocholan-3-one-17b-ol. The difference in terminology on the label can help to disguise the ingredient. Interestingly, the compound does not seem to be on the DEA’s Controlled Substance list.
One might think that this was the last we had seen of the compound methasterone in dietary supplements; afterall, the FDA considers it a synthetic steroid. But, alas, this is not the case. A quick look through the available products on nutritionarsenal.com finds many products that contain this compound on the label such as Competitive Edge Labs M-Drol, Extreme Performance Group Dianavar, Methastadrol and more. It is rather shocking that although the FDA acted against one company in 2006 for selling the synthetic steroid methasterone, multiple other companies still appear to sell the same synthetic steroid today more than four years later. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Sadly, although many perhaps thought the era of designer steroids was behind us, the opposite seems true as the creation of new options only seems to be gaining ground. While some, such as methasterone products, are well known, others will require resources to explore, characterize and regulate. We look forward to participating in that process.