For the performance enhancer the Controlled Substances Acts, both in 1990 and 2004 are of great importance and of equal importance is the 1994, Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). A legislative act that passed through congress with heavy strength and unanimous consent, through passage the FDA was given yet more ammunition to combat a non-existing enemy as over the counter supplements would begin to be seen in similar light as anabolic steroids.
By passage of the law supplement manufactures are held responsible for ensuring their products are safe for human consumption and within the realm of the law; for example, supplements must be labeled properly without a misleading or malicious intent. Very few would argue with this procedure as consumer protection is always of great concern but the legislation does not end there at all. Once a supplement hits the shelves it is the FDA’s responsibility to take action against any supplement deemed unsafe or in violation of the Controlled Substances Acts in any shape or form. Herein lies a major problem as the FDA can label a basic supplement to be a violation on a whim if it so desires. Due to the DSHEA even basic supplements such as creatine monohydrate have come under fire, as some have tried to claim simple creatine is an anabolic steroid precursor. This is of a very important note as many supposed steroid precursors as they’re often called are just as often found in the food we eat. For example, creatine is found in large amounts in both steak and swordfish, by-which logic would determine if creatine were to fall under the control of DSHEA so would steak. As the DSHEA defines a supplement as a product designed to add a supplemental affect to a diet this begins to raise many questions regarding its intent. While this is simple logic even a child can understand we must remember Congress has banned the use of testosterone, a hormone naturally produced in both men and women of all ages.
After the passage of DSHEA for years many pro-hormones remained untouched as supplement makers were able to find a loophole in legislation but this would prove to be short lived. As the 2004 Steroid Control Act actively banned many pro-hormone ingredients it further breathed new life into the original DSHEA thereby increasing the power of the FDA in this regard and closing the supposed loophole many supplement makers had thought to hold.
Since its passage, year after year new supplements hit the shelves and while many of these supplements do not contain ingredients found and banned by the Steroid Control Act of 1990 or 2004, under DSHEA they are often illegalized in the same light as soon as they hit the shelves. As many pro-hormones were banned under the Steroid Control Act of 2004, actively labeling many of these ingredients as Schedule III items, in the same light many new pro-hormones often meet the same fate under DSHEA.
Many claim this gives the FDA too much unchecked power as they are beholden to no one in-terms of the actions it takes under DSHEA and it’s very hard to make an argument that would dispute this. Of course the obvious argument is that Congress gave the FDA this power but many consumers remain outraged as such authority is likened to totalitarian nature.
In the end it all boils down to education and in this particular case, as is with the Steroid Control Acts it revolves around the lack thereof. From the media hype that has surrounded anabolic steroids Congress has repeatedly ruled in the state of fear and as is common with fear the reaching arm or results often goes much further than its original intent. For years the FDA has simply argued they are doing what is necessary to look after the consumer and keep him safe, for many this proves to be a failed attempt as most enjoy making their own decision on what is safe and what is not. By the logic of the DSHEA laws could easily be passed that ban driving a motorcycle, skiing and alcohol consumption or even riding in a car. Nevertheless, as long as the DSHEA exists every supplement on the market is constantly at risk so the consumer must always enjoy them while they can. Will other basic supplements eventually fall under the gun of the FDA? It’s impossible to say but based on what we’ve seen anything is possible.