Steroids

Congress Wants to Add a Popular Fitness Drug to the List of Controlled Substances

Officials should be thinking about harm reduction, not criminalization.

|

Does Orrin Hatch even lift? Photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/Newscom

If an athlete was suspended in the last year (or so) for using a performance-enhancing drug that wasn't a testosterone-based steroid, it was probably because they tested positive for a SARM. SARMs—"selective androgen receptor modulators"—have been around for years; they're popular because they work and because they aren't regulated. But that last part may be about to change.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.) introduced legislation last week that would criminalize the entire SARM class of compounds. The SARMs Control Act of 2018 would place the drugs in schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside testosterone and substances intended to cause muscle growth.

Drugs in schedule III are legal to prescribe if they've been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); without a prescription, they are illegal to possess, buy, or sell. Since SARMs have not been approved by the FDA, and likely won't be for years (if ever), the Hatch-Whitehouse bill will make them illegal in nearly every context.

In a statement released late last week, Hatch declared that SARMs "pose the same safety risks as anabolic steroids." That's a remarkable claim, considering that we don't actually know these substances' safety profile. There are no extensive human trials for any of them. Maybe they have the same long-term effects of steroids (which are themselves overblown), but right now it's impossible to say for sure.

Here's what we do know: Enobosarm, one of the most popular SARMs, holds promise as a treatment for muscle wasting, which is a symptom of more than a dozen serious diseases ranging from HIV to cancer. RAD140, another popular SARM, may protect brain tissue from degeneration much the way testosterone appears to. Along with several other compounds, both Enobosarm and RAD140 are designed to offer the tissue regeneration benefits of testosterone without the latter's pesky effect on secondary sexual characteristics. This is why pharmaceutical researchers began working on SARMs in the first place. A drug that could deliver testosterone's anabolic effects (muscle growth, increase in red blood cell count) without the androgenic effects (facial hair, acne, thickening of the vocal cords) would be quite useful for female and pediatric patients, not to mention male patients with an elevated risk of prostate cancer (testosterone makes everything grow faster, including tumors).

You won't learn any of that from Hatch, because discussing drugs in a nuanced way generally undermines the argument for banning them. But you should be able to learn all of this from the Food and Drug Administration, which has thus far declined to respond to the rise of research chemicals in a way that educates consumers. That's a shame, considering the wealth of misinformation about SARMs.

These drugs are often marketed as a side-effect-free alternative to pharmaceutical testosterone, which is almost certainly not true. One study of the SARM LGD-4033 found that while it increased lean body mass compared to a placebo, it also greatly reduced endogenous testosterone production. In other words, it made men's balls stop working. This was with doses as small as 0.1 mg, while the largest dose used in the study was 1 mg. Yet the LGD-4033 available online—if it is in fact LGD-4033—is dosed anywhere from 3 to 5 mg per serving, which is more than necessary and likely to produce even greater negative effects.

The anecdotal reports I've read from SARM users confirm that most formulations cause suppression of testosterone production in men, which is a trait the drugs share with anabolic steroids. That doesn't necessarily make them dangerous. Rather than tell people, "Don't do this thing you clearly intend to do regardless of what we say," the FDA could try, you know, educating. Aggregate the information that studies have found, emphasize the low dosages used therein, and discourage consumers from taking more than the available evidence suggests is necessary. The agency could also discuss potential side effects, and when to seek treatment. Crazy, I know!

The Hatch-Whitehouse approach—criminalizing everything that looks remotely like a steroid—will not discourage a certain type of consumer from buying gains in a bottle. Criminalizing anabolic steroids in the 1990s didn't do that, nor did criminalizing prohormones in the 2000s. In fact, the most significant consequence of banning drugs we understand really well—like testosterone, which was first synthesized nearly a century ago—is that research chemists are now constantly looking for new substances that aren't yet illegal, but also aren't all that well understood. In other words, Congress created the SARMs "problem" by banning the thing that was popular before SARMs. If Hatch's bill becomes law, we'll know even less about the long-term consequences of whatever drug class comes next.

Advertisement

NEXT: A Candidate for the Title of Dumbest Land-Use Restriction in the Nation

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Look, if it wasn’t regulated already that just means that a bunch of assholes were trying to get around the systems in place. How can you see that outcome and not see it as a massive injustice?

  2. You know what else some people refer to as “a popular fitness drug”?

      1. Preferred term is “Cunny juices”

        1. Look, you should take this up with your mom, Paul. Your complaints, obviously. Not the actual fitness drug.

      1. Do you know Richard Spencer’s favorite drink at Starbucks?

        Aryanna Grande.

        I just came up with that. You’re welcome.

        1. Unfortunately, you’ll be here all week.

          1. He has nowhere else to go.

            1. None of us do. Your aloofness doesn’t hide the Truth, X.

  3. Hatch declared that SARMs “pose the same safety risks as anabolic steroids.”

    He’s probably right, but not in the way he thinks.

  4. God Hatch is a worthless jackass. He makes up for it by serving in the Senate forever. Hatch’s entire existence is an expression of that old Woody Allen joke about the one guy complaining about the food at a restaurant and his friend saying “yeah and the portions are so small”.

    1. But, John, he did forge quite the friendship with the chubby Chappaquiddick killer.

  5. The precautionary principle demands we ban that which we are unfamiliar with.

    For the childrenz.

  6. Then they came for the fitness drugs, and I did not speak out–because I was not swoll.

    1. It was leg day, so I skipped.

  7. Hatch and Whitehouse demonstrate some bi-partisan biological bolshevism.

  8. Nice to know they have all that silly ISIS business out of the way so they can focus on what really matters.

  9. If Hatch’s bill becomes law, we’ll know even less about the long-term consequences of whatever drug class comes next.

    But there’s not supposed to be a “next”. This is why they pass these laws, you keep sticking your hand in the cookie jar, they keep smacking it. The lesson to be learned is “stop sticking your hand in the cookie jar”, not “some people really, really want cookies and since it’s not your cookie jar it’s none of your damn business if they stick their hand in the cookie jar even if you are a nanny-state authoritarian who thinks people shouldn’t be having cookies you personally don’t like.”

    1. I prefer the chocolate chip / peanut butter.

  10. So let me get this straight. It’s not enough to that power-hungry people want to dictate what substances and/or activities other people can do to have fun, they also want to dictate what substances they can take to get healthier/stronger. How can any normal person not despise these idiots?

    I wish they’d develop a drug that can reduce the desire to wield power over others, since the politicians have an epidemic of that particular ailment.

  11. Does Orrin Hatch even lift?

    Mike Riggs is my new favorite. Sorry, Britches.

  12. We have a fundamental right to self medicate. People have been doing it since the dawn of time and it is an essential element of our culture. We have to start standing up for our own freedom and label it what it is LIBERTY. The government’s power to regulate commerce cannot limit our right to free speech or to own guns, nor can it limit our fundamental right to determine our own medication needs and to self medicate if we don’t let it.

  13. We are top suppliers Marijuana, pain pills, sex pills and anxiety meds available (we have meds like xanax, tramadol, percs, oxy, roxy, valium, actavis syrup, etc… +1 (724) 470-0553. Call: +1 (419) 299-6124
    Email Us Via : discreetsales2015(@)gmail.com

  14. We are medicine suppliers (without Prescription) Base in USA & South Africa providing a convenient way for drugs without prescription to get to your door. We also provide a better channel for legal or non-legal cannabis patients to receive their medication without leaving their home or office. Be treated like a VIP!
    We are a trusted middle-man a drop shipper and suppliers of a wide range of Pharmaceutical Formulations specializing in Pain Killers, Anti Anxiety, Weight loss, Steroids, Marijuana HGH, ADHD & ED , Research Chemicals + more that 100 different medicines. These are sourced from reliable vendors that make sure that our product range is safe.

    CONTACT US
    Be treated like a VIP! +1 (724) 470-0553
    WhatsApp # only: + 15753835081
    S.A OFFICE
    Whatsapp Number: 0027642338548 / Call Tel: 0027642338548

  15. WE ARE TOP QUALITY REGULAR SUPPLIERS OF MORE THAN 1000 DIFFERENT HIGH QUALITY PHARMACEUTICAL MEDICATIONS AND OTHER DRUGS AT VERY AFFORDABLE PRICES.Our company has an extensive list on medications and can provide all shipping options like (Regular post, EMS, DHL. UPS.UPCE )

    –Text or Call us through: +1 (724) 470-0553 / +1 (419) 299-6124
    Email Us Via :vvresearchchemicals(@)gmail.com

    WE DEAL ON :
    Research Chemicals
    Research Peptides
    Human Growth Hormones (HGH) and Steroids
    Pain Relief
    Anti anxiety
    Ecstasy and Party Pills
    Sleeping Pills
    Weight Watchers
    Sexual Health Enhancers
    ADHD (
    Antiseptics
    voluntary euthanasia

    TOP PROMOTION OFFER
    MDMA ,LSD ,Oxycodone-A215 ,Oxycotin ,Adderall Oxycodone .Xanax ,Opana ,Percocet ,methadone ,Amphetamine ,Mephedrone ,Nembutal Pentobarbital,Actavis promethazine codeine ,Medical Marijuana ,Crystal Meth,methamphetamine..ETC

    Consider our name for acquiring qualitative products in any quantity, safe and time-bound deliveries are what we ensure. We have developed a large storage facility that is equipped with modern facilities for loading and unloading goods. Also, it assist us in meeting bulk requirements at a time.

    Email Us Via : vvresearchchemicals(@)gmail.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.