WASHINGTON—Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) have introduced legislation in the House designed to crack down on anabolic steroids masquerading as dietary supplements, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
The legislation serves as a companion bill to the Senate’s Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (DASCA) of 2014, which was introduced in February by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
“The introduction of the House bill is the next step toward full passage of a much-needed law that will further empower the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with new tools to identify and quickly respond when new designer anabolic steroids are introduced and falsely marketed as dietary supplements," said Mike Greene, CRN’s vice president of government relations, in a statement.
The Senate bill, introduced amid the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, would classify "designer anabolic steroids" found in gyms, retail stores and over the Internet as controlled substances.
According to Hatch and Whitehouse, the products are made by reverse engineering illegal steroids and slightly changing their chemical composition. Such reengineering avoids placement on DEA's list of controlled substances, posing a dilemma for federal authorities. According to a DEA official in 2009 testimony on Capitol Hill, if products containing designer steroids meet the definition of a dietary supplement, FDA must demonstrate that they are "adulterated"—presenting "a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury"—before they can be removed from the market.
Hatch and Whitehouse warned that designer steroids can cause such harm as liver injury and an increased risk of a heart attack and stroke, and may lead to addiction and aggression.
The Senate's legislation will "allow DEA to respond faster to stop those criminals who create new anabolic substances closely resembling listed ones, but tweaked just enough that they are not identical to the ones listed," CRN president and CEO Steve Mister wrote in a March 10, 2014 article for Natural Products INSIDER. "The misbranded steroids, illegally sold as dietary supplements, are not only dangerous for consumers, but also unfairly damage the reputation of responsible dietary supplement companies that provide consumers with legitimate, high-quality and beneficial supplements for sports nutrition and performance."