CRN helps to shine light on SARMs epidemic

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) is shining a light on the issue of SARMs in sports nutrition products as a way to demonstrate that the dietary supplement industry is taking a proactive approach to dealing with dicey ingredients showing up in the market.

Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA about the issue of these ingredients appearing in sports nutrition products marketed as dietary supplements. Mister was attending the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.

SARMs, or selective androgen receptor modulators, are a class of compounds that behave in a similar fashion to full-on anabolic steroids. But because they do not technically fall within that definition, they have been outside the enforcement scheme set up under DASCA, or the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act, which was signed into law in 2014.

CRN was among other industry stakeholders that worked for the passage of DASCA. Creative chemists were finding ways to quickly produce anabolic steroid analogues, and these were showing up in products marketed to workout enthusiasts at a dizzying rate. DASCA gave the Drug Enforcement Administration a more streamlined way to identify these and get them off the market.

Responsible industry must work toward solution

In the past, when problems like these have arisen, the default message from trade organizations has been that these are illegal products produced by formulators deliberately skirting the law. We represent the responsible dietary supplement industry, not those people, or so the argument went.

Mister said those days are pretty much over. It may be that regulators—and increasingly the mainstream press—have bought into the notion that these are not legal dietary supplements but are illegal products and should be identified as such. But they still pose a threat to the legitimate industry, Mister said.

“We always try to remind the industry that this is everyone’s problem,​ Mister said. “Responsible companies are not the ones putting SARMs into the marketplace. But all it takes is one serious adverse event. Wouldn’t it be awful if the industry gets a black eye because the person says, ‘Well, I got it from my supplement.’”

Mister said the problem has both a supply and a demand aspect. On the supply side stand the chemists and product formulators coming up with these problematic ingredients and putting them into products. On the demand side stand consumers who have been seeking these out without full knowledge of their possible side effects.

“On the supply side the effort is to give the DEA more authority to go after these products quicker,​ 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.

CRN has put up a consumer-facing web page under the link #SARMSsCanHarm warning on the dangers of these ingredients. The page can be viewed here​.

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