WASHINGTON (AP) — The government will crack down on the
steroid-like supplement taken by Mark McGwire, telling companies
yesterday to quit selling androstenedione unless they can prove
it’s not dangerous.

Commonly called andro, the product is a steroid precursor
— the body uses it to make testosterone.

That means it poses the same health risks as directly using an
anabolic steroid, the Food and Drug Administration says in warnings
telling 23 manufacturers to cease their production.

“Anyone who takes these products in sufficient quantities
to build muscle or improve performance is putting himself or
herself at risk for serious long-term and potentially irreversible
health consequences,” FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan
said.

The FDA’s newest crackdown comes as it is facing a legal
challenge to its pending ban on another dietary supplement,
ephedra. That herbal stimulant, widely used for weight loss, has
been linked to 155 deaths, including Baltimore Orioles pitcher
Steve Bechler during spring training last year.

The maker of the Stacker 2 brand of ephedra supplements, NVE
Pharmaceuticals, filed suit this week in federal court in New
Jersey seeking to block FDA’s sales ban, which is set to
begin April 12.

“We’re confident that we do have a clear legal
basis” for the ban, FDA spokesman Brad Stone said
yesterday.

Anabolic steroids, which build muscle, are controlled
substances. But andro — because it is a precursor, not the
steroid itself — has long been marketed as a dietary
supplement and been sold over the counter.

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