China lifts DHEA ban

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

The Chinese government has lifted the ban it placed on the manufacture and export of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) in the lead up to the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

The Chinese prohibition left many firms without DHEA as much of the material is sourced from China but with the Games completed, the Chinese government has rescinded the action.

Utah-based supplier AM Todd Botanical Therapeutics said it had received its first batches and business was on the way to returning to normal.

AM Todd director of sales, Corey Norton, stated: “We have been monitoring this situation for some time and have worked closely with our manufacturing partner to secure material as soon as the government lifted its restrictions.”

AM Todd said the total suspension of supply had left many dietary supplement manufacturers and marketers completely out-of-stock in recent months if they were unable to source from elsewhere.

The 2008 ban compounded an earlier decision by the Chinese government to tighten the requirements surrounding shipments of DHEA to the US.

“On top of the supply challenges, a rigorous and substantive ‘process of authentication’ is now required that can take months to execute between multiple departments within both country’s governments,”​ Norton said.

AM Todd was the first US company to meet these requirements.

DHEA marketing

Controversy surrounds DHEA because of its links to abuse by athletes and adolescents.

For this reason, members of the Washington DC-based dietary supplements trade body, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) have pledged to follow certain guidelines when marketing DHEA products.

The voluntary marketing program recommends that companies do not market DHEA products as having an anabolic steroid effect, and do not market them to under 18 year-olds.

“It’s disturbing to see some of the ads in magazines or online that promote DHEA as if it were a drug or anabolic steroid, when the fact is existing research has not demonstrated that kind of effect,”​ said Steve Mister, CRN president and CEO in August.

“Advertising that overpromises results leads to consumer confusion and casts a negative shadow over the entire industry.”

Norton backed the initiative. “Taking the responsible path to properly secure this material has been long, but it has provided us with a strong and favorable supply position. The fact that our efforts culminated the week of SupplySide West is a bit ironic; it is great news for us as well as for key industry decision makers attending the show”.

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) – a precursor to the hormone testosterone – occurs naturally in the blood of young people. Levels have been shown to peak between the ages of 20 and 30 years, but decrease progressively thereafter.

The body regulates the conversion of DHEA in order to maintain normal hormone levels. As a result, there is no excess production of testosterone as the body ignores ‘surplus’ DHEA.

In contrast, anabolic steroids work by producing extra testosterone in order to increase muscle size and strength.

Because anabolic steroids are associated with abuse, addition and side effects, a number of steroid precursors have been placed on the Controlled Substances List under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act enacted by Congress in 2004.

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