Andro Supplement Ban Takes Effect

Nutrition store owner Steve Cardillo

hide captionNutrition store owner Steve Cardillo says that while the ban has boosted sales of andro, he hopes customers will turn to other products.

Chris Arnold, NPR

A new ban takes effect Friday ending the over-the-counter use of steroid-like dietary supplements. The best known of these is androstenedione, or "andro."

Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGuire admitted using androstenedione a few years ago — and that actually helped make it even more popular with fitness buffs and athletes.

As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, andro is now reclassified as a controlled drug because of health risks found by researchers. But that hasn't stopped people around the country from hoarding it before the ban is enforced.

At an American Nutrition Center store near Boston, store owner Steve Cardillo says he's sold $25,000 dollars worth of andro in the past month, with more than 50 a day seeking the pills this week.

Physicians are applauding the ban. Dr. Gary Wadler, an authority on performance enhancing drugs, is a professor at the New York University School of Medicine. He explains that andro is a steroid precursor: It is converted by an enzyme in the body into testosterone, and then behaves like an anabolic steroid.

Despite the ban, Wadler and others say many supplements are still being used that haven't been approved by the FDA — and their health risks remain largely unknown.

Another Worrisome Supplement

NYU’s Dr. Wadler says he’s still concerned about some of these other products not included in the ban. One of them is called Tribulous Terrestris, which is thought to promote testosterone production. Wadler says it's been found to cause neurological problems in sheep. But since the concoction is still considered a supplement, not a drug, it’s legal to sell over the counter.

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