DASCA seeks to ensure anabolic steroids are not misrepresented as legitimate dietary supplements by broadening the definition and imposing tougher penalties on firms making and selling them.
The Act seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act to add more than 25 new substances to current lists of defined anabolic steroids, and revises the process whereby new substances can be added in future.
It also creates tougher penalties (up to $2.5m and up to 10 years in prison) for the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of substances that meet the definition.
An ongoing issue
“If you look at the warning letters from the FDA over the last four years, you’ll see that anabolic steroids falsely marketed as dietary supplements continue to be an issue,” said Mike Greene, VP of government relations for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
Introduction of the bill marks the beginning of the process, he cautioned, and there is still a way to go before it becomes law.
A bill of the same name was first introduced in 2012 by Senators Hatch and Whitehouse, but failed to pass into law.
The 2014 bill is a re-introduction of the 2012 version, said Greene. “There were a lot of confounding issues that occurred in 2012,” he explained, “and a lot of bills didn’t pass in that year. Whether that was due to bipartisan or political reasons, we don’t know, but we are very hopeful that it will pass this time.”
‘An important step’
The legislation was also welcomed by Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). “The legislation introduced today by Senators Hatch and Whitehouse is an important step in helping to protect athletes at all levels, parents and all consumers from unscrupulous companies who are selling dangerous designer steroids disguised as supplements,” he said.
“As part of our mission for clean athletes, we work to help athletes understand the risks associated with supplement use, and we look forward to continuing to work with our Congressional leaders as they help ensure that the laws of this country can safeguard the public.”
Trade association support
The Act’s introduction was welcomed by a joint statement from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA).
“The trade associations of the dietary supplement industry strongly support DASCA, a bill that protects consumers by empowering the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with new tools to identify and quickly respond when new designer anabolic steroids—illegal drugs—are falsely marketed as dietary supplements,” said the statement.
“Among the improvements brought about by DASCA will be new guidelines for DEA to address products that are ‘substantially similar’ to anabolic steroids and that have been illegally marketed to promote muscle growth. In addition, DASCA will place new anabolic steroids on the DEA Controlled Substance List, and will change the criteria for placing additional anabolic steroids on the list going forward.
“This will make it easier for DEA to identify and catalog new chemicals. DASCA will also 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 their flagged counterparts.
“Misbranded products that contain designer anabolic steroids present serious health risks to consumers. Unapproved 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. These illegal products put athletes at risk, pose safety problems and jeopardize the careers of athletes who could unknowingly test positive for these banned substances under their athletic associations’ rules of conduct.
“Responsible dietary supplement industry stakeholders have consistently supported congressional and regulatory efforts to enact and enforce laws that help eliminate illegal products that masquerade as dietary supplements, and to prosecute the criminals who manufacture and sell them. The industry lobbied Congress to pass the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, and our trade associations are proud to work with Sens. Whitehouse and Hatch on this critical issue. We are committed to coming together to advance this important legislation and to see that it is enacted.”