SARMs Exposed - the Good, the Bad and the Ostarine
SARMs Exposed - the Good, the Bad and the Ostarine
Disclosure: I do not sell, market, source or otherwise promote any ingredient or product that is or contains any of the SARMs listed below in this article.

While I have commented on the proliferation of various SARMs being illegally sold in the dietary supplement world, this is not a topic that would usually be much concern to me on a day-to-day basis. It's not a topic that I would normally dwell on or be motivated to write much about either.

My opinion is that the unregulated, illegal sale of SARMs-ut-supplements is something for the FDA, Department of Justice and as a last resort, the ambulance-chasing tort attorneys to deal with. However, recently a "confluence of events" happened that caused me to rethink my position and has caused me to now to actively vocalize my protestation of those SARMs being illegally sold in dietary supplements.

[imagemap id="17889"]
Bruce Kneller presents Giant Pump. Experience skin tearing pumps, vascularity and density. Order now.

SARMS - Entering the Mainstream

First, I had a frank conversation with a well-known industry attorney who is easily one of the more respected attorneys working the trade today. He told more – more or less – that the illegal sale of SARMs as dietary supplements is something that the FDA is quite keenly aware of now. And yes, FDA is seriously concerned about this too.

Some of the people who are making seven-figure money in the USA illegaly pushing this stuff and bragging about "living large" on social media are – allegedly – already well within the crosshairs of the FDA's OCI Division and they are active takedown targets of federal law enforcement. "It does not end well for these guys," says my attorney-confidante'. He's probably correct.

Next, Marc Lobliner apparently received an inquiry about this whole topic from the Associate Editor of "one of the largest, if not the largest" men's print magazines in the United States and perhaps even the entire world. Marc sent this person to me for "educational purposes" and while my current stand is generally to utter "no comment" as many times as it takes for press people and would-be journalists to go away and leave me alone, this guy already had investigated this topic fairly thoroughly.

Yet still, he was encumbered by some assumptions about SARMs that were not exactly grounded in fact. And since he seems bent on writing what's surely going to be a hit piece I want to at least make sure that it was grounded in some fact and was not merely a hysterical rant about saving the children and how completely shady the entire sports nutrition industry is yet again.

SARMs Eye DropperThat a mainstream print magazine is interested in writing a headline piece about SARMs is clearly indicative that these chemicals are no longer just the stuff for the tech-savvy, highly educated doper who prefers his "supplements" dissolved in propylene glycol wrapped in an amber dropper bottles discretely shipped from a fly-by-night "research chemical" website. It is crystal clear that these chemicals are now illegally being sold in dietary supplements – as capsules and tablets ready to consume – with some ubiquity on major online sales portals such as eBay and Amazon.

Third, one of the regional salespeople who is employed by the same company I do a lot of work for called me last week somewhat exasperated from a small, brick and mortar health food store. It seems many brick and mortar stores are now selling the heck out of products that have SARMs listed on the label. In fact, it seems in a lot of the mom and pop stores, SARMs have replaced that space on the shelf that all of the "pro-hormones" occupied until DASCA 2014 was signed into law late last year.

While I fully understand the business perspective of the storefronts selling this type of stuff – there is sky high demand for it, its an easy sell, margins are typically lucrative on these type of products and the sale of them allows brick and mortars, which have a notorious time keeping up with pricing and promotion of items versus online deep discounters - to keep the proverbial lights on, I still am convinced that the long term damage the sale of this stuff does to our industry is not remotely mitigated by the fast buck these folks may earn by illegally selling SARMs.

Who wants to buy creatine and leucine at close to MSRP when they can buy the "exhilaratingly hardcore" SARM-laced products in the store down the road? Protein powder and caffeine seem crude and archaic when compared to SARMs because pretty much all legal dietary supplements really are crude and archaic when compared to SARMs if we are judging them solely by their muscle building and fat reducing effects.

Lastly, a company in China has been spamming the crap out of me on a daily basis offering to sell me kilogram quantities of virtually any SARM you can think of. Despite me asking them twice to remove my address from their daily e-mail blasts, this company has not done so. They are also peppering me to "connect" in LinkedIn much to my annoyance.

Bombarded by SARMS

So almost everywhere I turn in recent days I am being bombarded and clobbered with SARM-this, SARM-that, SARM with macaroni and cheese, SARM a la mode…so? So this got me thinking, an activity that sometimes, every once in a while, yields great dividends. So here I am, writing about the "harm from SARMs" a little more for Tiger Fitness.

If all you're seeing here are walls of text you can stop after the next paragraph.

TL;DL – Virtually all the SARMs being sold in dietary supplements in the United States are on a de jure basis, done so illegally, these chemicals are unapproved new drugs being tested by drug companies – in some cases, totally abandoned by drug companies - as prescription drugs for a variety of serious medical conditions. Some of these SARMs have been demonstrated to cause serious damage to eyesight/visual acuity in humans, a host of rapidly growing cancers in animal models as well as other, deleterious side effects. Further, it is somewhat questionable that the SARM listed on the label of the product on the shelf (or website) is what's really contained in the bottle.

This article is not intended to be a primer on what SARMs are and what they do. If you need that information, plenty of it abounds on the interwebz for even the most inexperienced of Google-ninjas. Google "Ostarine" or "Ligandrol" or Muscle Man Resting
The margins of illegal SARMs are better than that for heroin, Molly and cocaine.

Sarms - Harmful and Not OK to Sell

While there may yet exist some botanical extract that demonstrates a SARM-type effect and said extract may indeed be considered a bona fide, fully legal and legitimate dietary ingredient, I can't think of anything being sold in a dietary supplement today that falls into this category today. So lets get that out of the way for folks who embrace the reductio ad absurdum mentality. Yeah, I know…someone usually wins the lottery every week. That does not mean it's a smart idea to buy lottery tickets in general.

What I am seeing predominantly is the illegal sale of Dietary Supplements with the one or more following printed on the label:
  • Ostarine (aka Enobosarm, MK-2866 and chemically as, (2S)-3-(4-cyanophenoxy)-N-[4-cyano-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-2-hydroxy-2-methylpropanamide))
  • Ligandrol (aka LGD-4033 and chemically as 4-((R)-2-((R)-2,2,2-trifluoro-1-hydroxyethyl)pyrrolidin-1-yl)-2-trifluoroMethyl)benzonitrile)
  • Endurobol (aka GW-501516 or Cardarine and chemically as 4-[({4-methyl-2-[4-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-1,3-thiazol-5-yl}methyl)sulfanyl]-2-methylphenoxy}acetic acid)
  • Andarine (aka S-4 and chemically as 2S)-3-(4-acetamido-phenoxy)-2-hydroxy-2-methyl-N-(4-nitro-3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-propionamide)
To be sure, there are other SARMs allegedly being sold that are absolutely unapproved new drugs but these four seem to be the most common appearing on the labels of supposed Dietary Supplements.

Before I delve too far into why these are completely unsuitable for use in a Dietary Supplement, something just popped into my mind that needs to be answered even before we address the legality issue.

How on earth does a would-be buyer of any of these type of products even know if the SARM he wants to buy is really in the bottle of the stuff he is buying?

SARM CapsulesSince it is just as illegal for a contract manufacturer to produce SARM-laced Dietary Supplements as it is for a label/brand to then market and sell them, I am curious as to the "quality" of the places cranking out these pills on a manufacturing level? The QA/Regulatory Unit of any manufacturer is going to see the raw material coming in the door and they are going to have to ignore (OK, consciously violate) a lot of federal laws to allow raw SARM powders to be capped, tableted, bottled and labeled in their facility. When the manufacturer does the required product label review, how does the QA/Regulatory Unit sign off on the label as "compliant" under 21 CFR Part 111 (specifically under the sections that define federal requirements for "process control" as related to labels)? The following link is also not a bad place to start for those with more than a passing interest in this topic.

So if the contract manufacturer is so corrupted and will knowingly allow someone to bring in some powder labeled as "Ostarine" or "GW-501516/Cardarine" or whatever, do you really think that anyone are doing any identity checks at all to insure that the powders are genuinely Ostarine or GW-501516/Cardarine?

The Cost, and Astronomical Markup of Ostarine

This brings up an interesting point – what are the raw material costs for some of these SARMs and is there a financial incentive for a even-slimier group of people to "cheat further" by replacing a higher cost SARM with a lower cost SARM?

The Chinese company that spammed me kept quoting the price of Ostarine at $3,200 per kg and for Ligandrol at $7,800 per kg. GW-501516 was offered at $12,800 per kg and for a more obscure SARM called MK-677 the price was $14,500 per kg.

Since the typical dose of Ostarine found in these adulterated products seems to be between 5mg and 10mg per unit dose and they are typically available in bottles of 60-240 unit doses, I am seeing a raw material cost as $3.20 per gram with a finished product price as low as $1.92 per bottle up to $3.84 per bottle.

Remember that these typically sell for $39.99 to $59.99!

So you can see the markup and net profit are astronomical. I have been told the margins illegally selling SARMs as Dietary Supplements are better than that for heroin, Molly and cocaine, actually. Who knows? Maybe the Mexican cartels will get into the game next?

Since Ligandrol appears to be dosed per unit at between 3mg and 4mg and typically is packed out in 60 to 90 pills per bottle, the raw material costs for this product would be $7.80 per gram which translates into about the same net COGSs per bottle as Ostarine.

So if Ostarine and Ligandrol are your SARMs of choice you are probably – maybe - in luck that they might just actually be in the bottle (no way to know if they really contain the stated mg per unit amount as written on the label nor to know what else –if anything – has been thrown into the mix to "enhance" user experience).

So now lets do the math for GW-501516/Cardarine and MK-677.

MK-677 is unit dosed typically at 10mg per pill and I see it packed in bottles of 60 count. That's $8.70 in raw materials (at $14.50 per gram). GW-501616 or Cardarine is also packed out at 10mg pills in typically a 60 count. So that's $7.68 in raw materials (at $12.80 per gram).

Raging Bodybuilder
Some of the people making seven-figure money illegaly pushing this stuff are – allegedly – well within the crosshairs of the FDA's OCI Division.

Do You REALLY Know What You're Getting?

I'm not really sure there is a clinically observable difference between any of the SARMs or even mildly androgenic steroids with regards to the muscle building/fat cutting customer who is unknowingly in most cases, using doses of around 10X-30X of that seen in published research studies to test human safety. So just how does the SARM consumer know if an already shady group of people (they are selling SARMs illegally as Dietary Supplements so they are by definition, "shady") may be acting in an even slimier manner by selling the relatively inexpensive Ostarine incorrectly labeled as Cardarine?

How would such a buyer really know? How would the buyer know that there really wasn't something like Winstrol or Anavar or Epistane (all considered steroids by DEA) in the bottle instead? Oh you mean the label holder "bro'ed you up" when you asked him this very question by text message? He hit you back on SnapChat with a "trust us, brah, we absolutely follow the strictest quality control standards and we're all about cGMP?"

How can you be about cGMP and quality control when the QA/Regulatory Unit didn't put the immediate and permanent kibosh on a would-be supplement that has a SARM printed on the Supplement Facts Panel? How can you be about cGMP when the QA/Regulatory Unit did not quarantine and eventually reject any "bag-o-powder" labeled as a SARM that was brought into the hold-for-testing area (required by federal law) of the manufacturing facility?

Yeah brah, its all good, it's the real thing, trust us, we know we're slinging stuff that may be dangerous, is surely 100% illegal to sell as a Dietary Supplement and making mad, gangsta bank doing it but seriously, we would never dream of screwing you even further with the wrong ingredient in the product! Look at my profile photo, bro! This shit is personal! I am totally yoked and so swole and I use this stuff to, really I do, so there is no way I would lie to you, trust me, it's the real thing.

Such a scenario has of course, never happened in this industry, not ever and it will never will again.

As an aside, which is related to this article, and demonstrates just how "in the open" and ubiquitous and stupidly fearless the peddlers of SARMs have become, late last night a true gem of a friend of mine sent me a link to a Facebook post where basically, a newer company pimping SARMs-ut-supplements calls out one of the more established "big dogs" of the illegal SARM trade by posting on their Facebook wall that they were going to start a SARM price war and try to take out the more established brand with far better pricing.

I'm left scratching my head and chuckling. Imagine the guy selling marijuana posting on the social media feed of another weed peddler that he better watch out because he was going to slash prices and offer the stoners a bigger, better deal on some primo kush?

Do I Dislike SARMS? No, But...

Hand CuffsI don't want the reader to think I dislike SARMs. I think SARMs have a lot of potential as prescription drugs to improve the quality of life for millions of people as well as extend the life span of many…after they have been thoroughly vetted via the rigors of appropriate clinical trial testing and the FDA signs off on them as OK for sale as prescription drugs. Heck, I don't even dislike a lot of the people selling them today either.

For a few years now, typically low-key websites have been selling various SARMs by the gram packed in glassine zipper bags or in "coincidently convenient" mg/ml solutions available in amber-colored, eye-dropper bottles. While the usual prefatory warning appearing on these websites is laughable (something akin to "This Is For Research Use Only And Not For Human Consumption") at least these web sites are trying to say, "SARMs are not some harmless stuff you should just casually ingest., know what your are doing before you do it!"

And they don't exactly make it easy for the lay public to use in the case of the gram powder sales in the bags. They operate in an area that is a probably a bit gray and I am actually OK with it for the most part. Various law enforcement types might not be OK with it but I don't have as much of an issue with these types of operations because they are not illegally and deceptively labeling the product as a Dietary Supplements. Nor are they plastering them for sale illegally and deceptively as Dietary Supplements all over the place.

Now the people who pill up the SARMs, usually in doses that are 10X-30X the doses that have been correlated with some serious adverse events in various studies, and then put them in a plastic bottle with a cheesy label that reads "Dietary Supplement" across the front panel? I have problems with these people. Serious problems.

One problem I have with the above is that all of these SARMs are well known to just about every athletic sanctioning body around the world and are now part of the doping testing protocol athlete's are subjected to. However, because these SARMs are mislabeled as Dietary Supplements and not a one that I have seen even mentions that consuming such will likely cause a tested athlete to throw a bad urine, this poses a huge and real risk for high school, college and professional athletes.

If I were a professional athlete who tested positive for Ostarine and I was suspended from play and forever labeled a "cheater" because I purchased a bottle of Ostarine pills recommended by the guy down the road at the local supplement store which were mislabeled as a Dietary Supplement? Yeah, I would absolutely sue the store and the label holder (and when I found out who the contract manufacturer was, I would fold them into the lawsuit too for good measure too).

The other real problem is that a lot of these SARM-containing products are being sold openly between the multivitamins and vegan power protein on the shelves of the local sports nutrition store. So there is an inference by the lay public, even if it's a bad and incorrect inference, that these SARM laced products are 100% legit, legal, have been reviewed and approved by the FDA as safe. The implications therefore, are that these are all perfectly OK to sell and use as Dietary Supplements like a multivitamin or creatine. That is absolutely not the case here.

While many sports nutrition stores have educated and ethical employees who possess college degrees in fields like Nutrition or Exercise Physiology, many stores just hire 19 year-old meatheads out of the gym who never made it out of high school. Some of these meathead sales people are exceedingly muscular and ripped.

So when a 16 year-old high school football player comes into such a store and sees this type of guy and thinks, "if only I was as big and strong, I could be a starter at outside linebacker for the high school team!" So you see where this is going I assume?

SARMS Are Not Innocuous

SARMs are absolutely not innocuous chemicals that help people to gain muscle and lose fat at an accelerated rate and that's the end of it. GW501516/Cardarine was abandoned for clinical development in 2007 because at least three published/presented studies using animal testing models revealed it rapidly caused cancer in multiple organs (stomach, liver, tongue, skin, bladder, ovaries, womb and testes) of test animals it was administered to.

The development of Andarine (S-4) as a prescription drug was also halted because the use of this compound caused serious side effects (disturbances in vision). There are dozens and dozens of such instances being documented and discussed on the internet by people who bought Andarine/S-4 and used it if you are so inclined to Google such.

And let's not parse words here, OK? SARM equals Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator. This does not equate with "OK, great so these drugs have absolutely zero androgenic and masculinizing potential or side effects." Many of them surely do and the likelihood of encountering such effects by the user probably increases in a way related to the dosage ingested. And I would bet the likelihood of such masculinizing effects would be much more visible in female users as opposed to male users so these drugs are potentially just awful in my opinion for women users.

Especially awful in women who may be pregnant or nursing.

Likely, because of the wide-spread and illegal sale of SARM-laced Dietary Supplements I bet that eventually we will see some federal crackdown on this class of drug and when some of them finally do obtain regulatory approval for sale as prescription drugs, look for them to be lumped into Schedule C-III with all the anabolic steroids by the DEA. And I also suspect that some of the larger peddlers of these adulterated Dietary Supplements will end up looking eye-to-eye with some aggressive federal law enforcement agencies armed with search and/or arrest warrants in the not-to-distant future.

SARMs being sold as Dietary Supplements will not end well for the consumer, the sellers, the manufacturers or the industry as a whole.