WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers Tuesday questioned regulators about their oversight of steroid-related products sold as dietary supplements and sought information from two makers of weight-loss remedies they said were marketed for children.
The lawmakers wrote to the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration expressing concerns that dietary supplement makers are selling products that may be more powerful than banned anabolic steroids.
They said they are seeking information about what the FDA and DEA are doing to address the availability of pro-steroids, recently discovered substances that act similar to testosterone, and precursor steroids, which appear to combine with natural substances in the body to form an illegal steroid.
The 1990 act that banned anabolic steroids does not specifically outlaw either substance.
“Thus, some dietary supplement manufacturers appear to have exploited loopholes in the act and develop steroids that may, in fact, be more powerful that the ones Congress banned in 1990,” members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote. The lawmakers said they were “concerned that current law may not be sufficient to empower agencies, such as FDA and DEA, to regulate or, when appropriate, ban these substances.”
The letter was signed by committee leaders including Louisiana Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, the chairman, and Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, the panel’s leading Democrat.
The FDA has been evaluating how to classify the steroid-related products and will respond to the lawmakers’ letter, an agency spokeswoman said.
Separately, the lawmakers said they were expanding a probe of a supplement called Skinny Pill for Kids. They wrote to Edita Kaye, president of The Skinny Pill in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, demanding answers to questions about the product’s development and marketing.
If answers to the panel’s questions are not provided by April 4, “we will consider issuing a subpoena compelling such production and your appearance before this committee to answer questions,” the lawmakers wrote.
Kaye could not immediately be reached for comment.
The lawmakers also asked Basic Research LLC in Provo, Utah, to provide documentation about the origins and safety of its product called PediaLean.
Daniel Mowrey, director of scientific affairs for Basic Research, said PediaLean contains a natural fiber called glucomannan and is marketed for helping children ages 6 to 16 lose weight. A clinical study in Italy found the product reduced weight without significant side effects, he said.
Mowrey said the company would respond to the lawmakers’ request for information.