United States Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced an amendment that will reclassify selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) as Schedule III Controlled Substances. The SARMs Control Act of 2018 will amend the Controlled Substances Act as a potential drug of abuse.
“SARMs are synthetic drugs that have negative effects similar to those of anabolic steroids,” Hatch said in a statement posted on his website. “Even though SARMS are not approved by the FDA for human use and pose the same safety risks as anabolic steroids, they have proliferated under a regime in which they are not subject to the same controls. The SARMs Control Act closes this loophole to ensure that the DEA has the authority it needs to prevent abuse and diversion of these dangerous substances.”
Senator Hatch is acting directly on behalf of the dietary supplement industry lobby. Hatch has been in the pocket of the supplement industry for years. When lobbyists say ‘jump’, Hatch predictably responds by asking ‘how high?’
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), one of the dietary supplement industry’s most powerful lobby, hinted at its efforts to reclassify SARMs as Controlled Substances in a statement released just last month. The reclassification would give the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the legal authority to investigate SARM possession and distribution.
“On the supply side the effort is to give the DEA more authority to go after these products quicker,” CRN Chief Executive Officer Mister said. “We need to recognize that there is a demand side solution here as well, which is helping consumers understand that there is danger in using these products.”
The SARMs Control Act of 2018 is supported by all four major dietary supplement industry lobbying groups as well as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The five groups expressed their support for the amendment in a joint statement:
“Each of our organizations has consistently supported efforts to enact and enforce laws to protect consumers, eliminate bad actors marketing illegal substances masquerading as legal products, and prosecute criminals who manufacture and sell them. Your bill will help move toward this goal. The SARMs Control Act is a bold step, adding teeth to prevention and enforcement efforts in the battle against illegal substances being marketed as legitimate products. The dietary supplement industry and USADA stands ready to work with you and all of Congress to deliver a strong bill to the President.”
Senator Hatch and the dietary supplement lobbyists are doing whatever it takes to preserve the $50 billion a year dietary supplement industry that was unleashed by another lobbyist-inspired bill introduced by Senator Hatch in the 1990s – the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).
DSHEA has been on the verge of being repealed or substantially weakened as a direct result of rampant illicit drug distribution by sports supplement companies. Unscrupulous companies have illegally sold synthetic steroids and SARMs masquerading as dietary supplements for many years with impunity.
The Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014 was passed to discourage supplement companies from selling illegal synthetic steroids. Similarly, the SARMs Control Act of 2018 wants to discourage supplement companies from selling illegal SARMs.
For several years, unscrupulous supplement companies have known that they can make a fortune by selling illegal unapproved drugs (as long as they aren’t classified as Controlled Substances). They know that they can get away with it because the federal agency in charge of regulating the dietary supplement industry – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – has largely looked the other way.
The FDA resources are simply too limited. The FDA also has much more pressing concerns, for example involving the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, than to worry much about dietary supplements. The federal government has refused to expand the FDA budget with the additional resources that would allow it to effectively oversee the supplement industry.
The DEA is another story. The funding for the U.S. war on drugs apparently has no limits under the current administration. The DEA clearly has the resources to enforce and investigate supplement companies who sell SARMs. Adding SARMs to the Controlled Substances List will remove SARMs from the dietary supplement marketplace much like the DASCA-2014 removed synthetic steroids from the dietary supplement marketplace.