Paris, France: The controversial hormone supplement dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is on the verge of reclassification as a controlled drug in France.
According to the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA), the move follows a recent report from the French medicines agency which raised the possibility of side-effects and claimed there was little evidence of the hormone's supposed ability to slow down the ageing process. French doctors will now be unable to prescribe the hormone, severely limiting access for French consumers.
DHEA is a precursor hormone naturally produced in the adrenal glands. Production declines with age, so some users believe DHEA can help to counteract the physical affects of ageing.
According to Penny Viner, director of UK trade body the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA), other entirely unauthorised effects ascribed to the hormone include increased sexual vigour and even reversing heart disease by clearing arteries. "However it is not available over the counter in Britain, only on limited prescription," she explained.
Use of the substance is regulated by both the Controlled Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1985—two health food retailers were prosecuted for unlawful possession last year by Britain's Medicines Control Agency (MCA).