With the attention paid to anabolic steroids and the threat they pose to sport and public health, it is amazing to discover that such products are for sale today at Amazon.com. We focus here on Amazon.com and on methasterone and madol, two drugs that appear in two products for sale there, but it is important to realize this marketplace is only the tip of the iceberg. Although some suggest that we should continue to allow free access to these products, our contention is that products like these that can cause liver failure and other significant harm should not be a mouseclick away from unsuspecting consumers, especially our youth where the harm can be greatly magnified.
The first drug is methasterone, otherwise known as methyldrostanolone, which became known under the name Superdrol in late 2005. Don helped expose it as a new designer steroid in an article by Amy Shipley published by the Washington Post Nov. 2005. Methasterone has been connected to cases of liver failure in several publications. The chat rooms on the topic provide the user accounts and hammer home the issue; check out this graphic example, if you want. The FDA issued a warning and took action against marketers of the product in March 2006. The World Anti-Doping Agency added the compound to the Prohibited List for 2006.
Despite inclusion on the FDA and WADA lists, the DEA does not yet have methasterone on its list of Controlled Substances as of Sept. 15. M-Drol caught the eye of the FDA in late 2009 when the product was included on a list of 65 steroid products that Bodybuilding.com was distributing. The FDA took action against some of the products and against Bodybuilding.com resulting in voluntary recall of the products from the site. Nonetheless, methasterone appears to be widely available in the marketplace today in many forms including Competitive Edge Labs M-Drol.
This dangerous non-FDA approved drug can still be purchased from many mainstream retailers including through 7 Amazon Sellers at Amazon.com, as of Jan. 17. Included in the marketing heading for the product is, “M-Drol-Anabolic Muscle Building Formula, 90ct (Compare To Superdrol).” We decided to go ahead and do the comparison.
Competitive Edge Labs M-Drol was purchased through Amazon.com on Nov. 15 in an order fulfilled by Amazon Seller Surplus-Supplements. We analyzed it in our ISO 17025-accredited lab and compared it to a reference standard of methasterone, or Superdrol, and in fact M-Drol does still contain methasterone. The sale of methasterone or a drug like it would likely qualify as sale of an unapproved new drug, according to the FDA’s recent letter to industry from Dec. 15: “These products are illegal because they are unapproved new drugs under 21 U.S.C. §§ 321(p) and 355(a) and/or adulterated dietary supplements under 21 U.S.C. § 342.”
There is more clarity in the case of the second product, Competitive Edge Labs P-Plex, which contains the anabolic steroid Madol. Madol is classified as a schedule III controlled substance by the DEA under the name desoxymethyltestosterone (no other names listed).
Madol was the second of two designer steroids discovered during the BALCO doping scandal in 2003. During the federal BALCO investigation, vials of the seized drugs were analyzed and characterized by Don and his team, then at the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory. The drug that received the most notoriety was THG, short for tetrahydrogestrinone, a modified version of the already prohibited anabolic steroid gestrinone. Madol was characterized later in 2004 and received much less publicity. Madol was added to the Controlled Substance list Jan. 4. 2010 after a nearly two year process.
Madol has a proper scientific name of 17α-methyl-5α-androst-2-en-17β-ol. The compound can be found under the following names; Madol, DMT, desoxymethyltestosterone, 17a-methyl-5a-androst-2-ene-17b-ol, 17a-methyl-etioallocholan-2-ene-17b-ol and other variations.
Despite its involvement in a high-profile case such as the BALCO investigation and inclusion on the controlled substance list, Madol appears in the dietary supplement marketplace in many forms. It became popular under the name Phera-Plex and continues to be marketed in many products today. Numerous options can be easily purchased on the Internet, including through Amazon.com.
Today at Amazon.com you will find Competitive Edge Labs P-Plex. P-Plex was also included in the FDA action against Bodybuilding.com, yet it remains in stock and available through two Amazon Sellers as of Jan. 17. The marketing headline for P-Plex on Amazon.com reads, “P-Plex-Anabolic Muscle Building Formula 10mg, 90ct (Compare To Phera-Plex).” We purchased the product on Jan. 6 through Amazon.com in an order fulfilled by Amazon Seller MMMPower and have identified Madol in the product.
The FDA considers this a serious matter and in a powerful letter to industry on December 15, 2010 wrote, “Responsible individuals and companies should be aware that the government may initiate criminal investigations to hold accountable those who violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and endanger the public health. Responsible individuals, even if the individual did not participate in, encourage, or have personal knowledge of the violation, can be criminally prosecuted under the Act, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 331. See United States v. Park, 421 U.S. 658 (1975). When the evidence warrants, felony charges may be appropriate.”
Knowingly or not, Amazon does appear to be providing a marketplace for selling steroids, some classified as controlled substances. Amazon was willing to withdraw the pedophile’s guide in three weeks, as we pointed out in our blog post Nov. 12. Hopefully, Amazon will hear the FDA on this matter and also voluntarily withdraw these steroid products from their website, sooner rather than later. We stand ready to help Amazon or other retailers in maintaining a safe marketplace for dietary supplements in the future. ##