The steroid hysteria related to steroids in sports continues to have an adverse impact of the availability of anabolic-androgenic steroids and human growth hormone for legal use in legitimate medical conditions. Congressional attacks upon anabolic steroids and other anabolic drugs (solely because athletes use them) are hurting those patients who stand to benefit from these highly beneficial and effective drugs.
The difficulty now is that anabolic steroids are becoming much less available legally because of Federal pressure upon producers. The anabolic steroid most successfully used over the years to combat wasting has been nandrolone decanoate. Up until recently, this product was produced by Watson Pharmaceuticals. In 2007, however, Watson stopped producing nandrolone. Instead, it is promoting Oxandrine, an oral steroid that is less effective and has more adverse side effects, but is also proprietary and therefore commands a higher price. Since then, anyone who needs to use nandrolone must go to compounding pharmacies, which will then produce the medicine on a custom order. At this time, the only anabolic steroids that may be used legally in the United States are Oxandrine and nandrolone. So the choice is Watson’s expensive, less effective, propriety product or use of the compounding pharmacies.
This situation presents two major problems for patients who need anabolic therapies. The first is that a prescription filled by a compounding pharmacy is not covered by insurance or AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), so use of nandrolone is an out-of-pocket expense. Many patients suffering from HIV are in difficult economic circumstance. The added expense frequently puts the medicine out of reach.
The other problem is that compounding pharmacies are now under heavy scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Agency to ensure that prescriptions are for legitimate medical needs. In theory, this would sound reasonable, but, in practice, the added delays, pressure and bureaucratic requirements have caused many compounding pharmacies to shy away from production of nandrolone. The most popular, Applied Pharmacy of Alabama, was providing the product reliably and at a reasonable price. However, the DEA insisted that the pharmacies verify the medical necessity of each prescription. That is not the role of a pharmacy. That is the role of the doctor writing the prescription. So the DEA regularly comes into the Applied Pharmaceuticals, gathers up all their records and keeps them for an unreasonable amount of time for review purposes. This amounts to blatant harassment solely to suppress production of a legitimate medication. For this reason, has announced that it will no longer provide nandrolone or other hormone-based products. Other compounding pharmacies have similarly so halted production, and this has caused an increase in prices among the remaining producers and confusion among HIV prescribers who wrongly assume that nandrolone is no longer available in the U.S.
I have generously excerpted from this detailed letter written by Mark A. Meier, a constituent in Representative Nancy Pelosi’s district. I encourage readers to carefully read theat Nelson’s HIV blog to see see what is at stake.