Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Mar 2003

Anti-Aging Supplements May Soon Be Illegal

DHEA and pregnenolone are among the unforeseen victims of the anti-andro bill. Learn what you can do to keep your nutritional freedom alive.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.



If you're one of the millions of Americans who enjoy and benefit from anti-aging supplements such as DHEA and pregnenolone, you have reason to be concerned. Certain members of Congress are intent on taking them away from you and placing you under arrest if you possess them! Sound far-fetched? It's frighteningly real, yet almost no one in the anti-aging/life-extension community is aware of the threat.

By Patrick Arnold

The villain is the so-called "Anti-Andro Bill" -H.R. 207- introduced last October in the House by U.S. Representatives Sweeney and Osborne. Purporting to address the use of muscle-building "andro" supplements by teens, this wildly overbroad bill would have devastating effects on mature adults throughout America. It would actually permit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to schedule a wide variety of currently over-the-counter nutritional supplements as controlled substances. In effect, this bill would authorize the arrest and criminal prosecution of millions of Americans as drug offenders-just for possessing supplements like DHEA, 7- keto DHEA and pregnenolone. Those caught with these currently legal supplements -proven to have powerful health and anti-aging benefits -would even be subject to federal asset forfeiture laws, permitting the government to seize and retain private property! All this would be done by making an end-run around the proper lawful procedures, and without any evidence of legitimate public health concerns or dangers to American adults. The bill seeks to deal a staggering blow to nutritional supplement freedom and the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

The anatomy of H.R. 207

The intention of the bill is supposedly to keep testosterone precursors like androstenedione away from teens. But rather than restricting sales of these items to minors, H.R. 207 would restrict all steroid hormone precursors from people of all ages. And not by making them prescription medicines, but by reclassifying them as controlled substances (see sidebar for the definition of "controlled substance"). The bill would accomplish this by "bootstrapping" these compounds into the federal Anabolic Steroid Control Act. This act was a 1990 revision to the original Controlled Substances Act of 1970. It reclassified anabolic steroids from simple prescription medicines to highly restricted Schedule III controlled substances. Mere possession of a schedule III controlled substance without a valid prescription is a federal drug offense with serious potential penalties that can even include jail time.

Let's look at the actual language of the bill. It's crucial that life extensionists understand what this language really means, because it was written in a specific way for a reason. The following is the heart of the bill.


   (a) DEFINITION- Section 102(23) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(23)) is amended—
   (1) by striking ‘(A)’ and inserting ‘(B)(i)’;
   (2) by striking ‘(B)’ and inserting ‘(ii)’;
   (3) by striking ‘(C)’ and inserting ‘(iii)’; and
   (4) by inserting after ‘means a substance—­ ‘the following new subparagraph:

   (A) which the Attorney General has found to be, and by regulation designated as being, the immediate chemical precursor of an anabolic steroid that has been scheduled as a controlled substance (hereinafter in this subparagraph referred to as ‘scheduled anabolic steroid’) which either is a metabolite of a scheduled anabolic steroid or is transformed in the body directly into a scheduled anabolic steroid or the metabolite of a scheduled anabolic steroid; or’.
   (b) PLACEMENT ON SCHEDULE- Section 201(e) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 811(e)) is amended—
   (1) by inserting ‘or for the immediate precursor of a scheduled anabolic steroid, without regard to the requirements of section 102(41), including the requirement that the substance promote muscle growth’ after ‘section 202(b)’; and
   (2) by adding at the end the following: ‘However, once an immediate precursor described in section 102(23)(A) is placed in a schedule pursuant to this section, it becomes a controlled substance and the Attorney General may schedule an immediate precursor of that substance in accordance with this section’.

While all this legalese may seem overly technical, it’s very important to understand the scope of what’s written here. The key language starts in paragraph 1(a)(4). This is where the primary qualifications for a controlled steroid precursor are outlined in a new subparagraph (A). Interpreted simply, this new subparagraph says that an immediate precursor to a controlled anabolic steroid shall itself become a controlled anabolic steroid. Case in point: immediately upon passage of this bill, androstenedione, which is the precursor to the controlled anabolic steroid testosterone, would automatically become a controlled steroid.

All right, that part is pretty obvious. It’s in subsection 1(b) where the sneakiness begins. First off, look at the troubling language of paragraph 1(b)(1): “…without regard to… the requirement that the substance promote muscle growth” (emphasis added). This language changes the bill from one designed to simply eliminate the supposedly muscle-promoting andro products, to a bill that eliminates ALL steroid precursors—such as anti-aging precursors like 7-keto and pregnenolone that have absolutely nothing to do with muscle mass.

Precursors of precursors of precursors…

Okay, so the real intention is revealed in 1(b)(1). It’s in 1(b)(2) that the mechanics of how the anti-aging steroid precursors will be swept up and revealed. This paragraph states, in effect, that not only precursors of anabolic steroids can be controlled, but precursors of precursors of anabolic steroids, and so on. Get the picture? This is the dangerous hidden aspect of this bill that few members of Congress understand. Just look at how it works.

The chart below shows one of the main metabolic pathways of how pregnenolone naturally converts to testosterone. H.R. 207 is written so that androstenedione, because of its conversion to testosterone, becomes classified as a controlled substance. If this bill were passed, according to paragraph 1(b)(2), the Attorney General could then declare DHEA a controlled substance because it is the immediate precursor of androstenedione, which this bill classifies as a controlled substance. The process repeats itself backwards with 17-alpha-hydroxypregenolone and finally with pregnenolone then being classified as controlled substances. There they would go, like dominoes, all criminalized by a simple administrative act that must be stopped from being enacted into law. If Congress passes this draconian piece of legislation, there won’t be much any person, agency or citizen’s action group can do about it. It will already be the law of the land, and you’ll be a criminal if you violate it.


Don’t forget the metabolites!


What about 7-keto DHEA? Does it escape the tentacles of this far-reaching bill? No hope there, I’m afraid. They were careful not to leave that one out. Take a look at the chart to the right.

7-keto DHEA is not a precursor of DHEA; however it is a metabolite. Now if you look back to the new subparagraph (A) proposed in 1(a)(4), you will see that they modified the language to include metabolites as well. They obviously wrote this bill with the intention to make it as broad in scope as possible—to go beyond just the andro-type immediate precursors and to outlaw every steroid hormone precursor product being sold today as a nutritional supplement!

What is a "Controlled Substance"?

While many drugs require a prescription from a physician, some drugs are deemed so dangerous that further restrictions are warranted. These drugs are called “controlled substances.” According to Rick Collins, Esq., performance drug and supplement legal expert and General Counsel for the United Supplement Freedom Assn (USFA), federal law has created five schedules of these controlled substances. Anabolic steroids are in Schedule III. In order to put a drug into Schedule III, the government has to find that it meets certain requirements:

(A) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

How does the government decide if a drug meets the requirements to become a controlled substance? The authority to add new substances to the schedules is given to the Attorney General. To start the inquiry, he’s supposed to request an evaluation and recommendations from the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding the drug’s potential for abuse and the need for scheduling. H.R. 207 circumvents the established procedures, and attempts to classify all steroid hormone precursors simply by act of Congress.


What crisis compels such a radical act? What evidence suggests that health-promoting substances like DHEA, 7-keto DHEA and pregnenolone have a potential for abuse or dependence of any kind? Absolutely none. Most life extensionists and anti-aging enthusiasts would agree that no such potential exists, and that to schedule these compounds as drugs of abuse is ludicrous.

Particularly troubling, as Mr. Collins points out, is that controlled substance status carries with it serious consequences. Controlled substances fall under the jurisdiction of the DEA, not the FDA. If H.R. 207 passes, the mere unlawful possession of steroid hormone precursors will be a federal crime punishable—like the possession of narcotics and other hard drugs—with a range of potential penalty including incarceration. Bottom line from Mr. Collins: this bill could put otherwise law-abiding mature adults in jail for what are now health food store nutritional supplements!

Wake up, America!

If you are an anti-aging supplement user, then we are going to spell it out for you. Don’t be deceived by the stated goals of this bill. This dangerous bill tries to sneak dietary products that are dear to you into a bill that is being promoted to Congress and to the media as seeking to ban over-the-counter anabolic steroids. With images of kids taking andro to hit home runs like Mark McGwire in the mind of Congress, coupled with the support of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the NFL and the NCAA, the political pressure to vote for this bill is almost overwhelming. Unfortunately, what the proponents of this bill are NOT telling anyone is that this bill is about a lot more than andro. It’s also about sneaking in as many other supplements as possible—supplements that do NOT have the stigma of andro, and that otherwise would be much more difficult to eliminate from shelves.


You must act immediately

H.R. 207 is a high priority bill that has received tremendous media coverage the past several weeks in a wide variety of outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Rep. Sweeney has made it clear that he is going to push as hard as possible to get it passed quickly.

Unfortunately, right now there is practically no resistance to this bill. With its politically popular “save our teens” message and well-hidden assaults on adult freedoms, H.R. 207 is basically a home run—that is, unless we act quickly! We must tell the politicians on Capitol Hill that American adults want supplement freedom, not an expansion of the war on drugs into our neighborhood health food stores! Please contact the United Supplement Freedom Association, Inc. (USFA), a not-for-profit coalition dedicated to the preservation of nutritional freedoms for American adults. Alternatively, you can write and contribute to the USFA through the association’s general counsel, Rick Collins, Esq., United Supplement Freedom Association, Inc., One Old Country Road, Suite 250, Carle Place, New York, 11514.

We must act immediately to let our voice be heard, or face the beginning of the end of our supplement freedoms!


Corrupt bureaucracies will trample basic human rights as long as citizens remain passive and apathetic. Please sign the letter on the next page and mail it to your Congressional Representative. To find your Congressional Representatives, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-225-3121. If you want to discuss this with your representative, you can be connected to his or her office directly. You can also find out who your Congressional Representative is and send an e-mail letter by accessing the web site


The Honorable
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative:

It has come to my attention that a bill (H.R. 207) has been introduced that aims to classify a wide variety of nutritional supplements as controlled substances. As a consumer of nutritional supplement products, I am gravely concerned about the consequences of this bill. This bill represents an abuse of the legislative system, and a blatant misuse of the controlled substance act. How can the government vote overnight to make criminal the possession of substances that have been used safely for years by millions of Americans? How can the government allow the attorney general to classify compounds as controlled substances without determining the existence of appropriate toxicological or pharmacological activity? Was the controlled substance act enacted with the intention that it be used as a political tool?If the government believes nutritional supplements such as pregnenolone and DHEA are unsafe and wishes to restrict access to them, then let it do so through already established legitimate means. Let the government produce the evidence that these substances are a risk to individuals and society, or that they meet the legal/scientific qualifications to be listed as controlled substances. Then, and only then, should the government be allowed to act. If this bill is passed it will directly affect the freedoms and lives of millions of Americans, including mature individuals that use DHEA and pregnenolone for anti-aging / disease-prevention purposes.

Please vote NO on H.R. 207.