The California attorney general filed suit in August against nearly three dozen dietary supplements manufacturers and distributors of androstenedione, contending the companies failed to warn consumers that the popular bodybuilding supplement falls within two definitions of anabolic steroids, which can cause adverse reproductive and other effects. The suit asks that civil penalties, including fines, be levied, and requests an injunction on further sales until warnings are provided.
"Andro is a concern because athletes take the substance in doses of 200 to 300 milligrams, amounts high enough to produce serious reproductive health problems for which Proposition 65 requires warnings," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires that warnings be given before people are exposed to chemicals known by the state to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
"Without such warnings," Lockyer said, "consumers are left with the impression that they are safe since these supplements can be bought in health food stores." Also noted in the suit is that the National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association and International Olympics Committee have banned androstenedione because it fits the National Institutes of Health definition of "anabolic-androgenic steroids" as well as the definition provided in Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology: Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1996).
One of the companies named in the suit, Met-Rx, owned by Rexall Sundown Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., hasn't made or sold andro for more than a year, said Carol Walters, a spokeswoman.
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