The FDA is moving to ban the use of anabolic steroids in men, as it seeks to curb a public health crisis that has seen tens of thousands of men die from heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
The move is in response to a review of the drugs in March by the agency’s Food and Drug Administration advisory committee, which found that there is insufficient evidence to justify continued use of the stimulants.
But the FDA said it would keep using the drugs for now in men who have undergone coronary artery bypass surgery, who have failed to lose weight, or for the few patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke.
An FDA spokesman said the agency plans to review other studies of an oral anabolic steroid before making a final decision on its use for men.
Anabolic steroids have been around for more than 30 years, and the drug’s use has spiked over the past decade, as doctors and patients sought to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
In 2017, the FDA issued a warning that anabolic-androgenic steroid use was associated with a five-fold increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular death, but the agency stopped short of calling it a public-health crisis.
In its advisory committee report, the advisory committee found that men who take steroids “may have a higher risk of mortality in the short term compared with those who do not take steroids.”
The FDA said in a statement that it would not be able to review studies in men before deciding on the drug ban, adding that the committee “did not find that an appropriate time frame for such a review was present.”