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Designer steroids: past, present and future

Fourcroy, Jean

Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Diabetes: June 2006 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 306–309
doi: 10.1097/

Purpose of review Current therapy and future drug development depend on an understanding of the developmental and regulatory history of androgenic anabolic steroids. After 1962, multiple regulatory changes altered the availability of many of these compounds and added the need to demonstrate both safety and efficacy for this class of drugs. The athletic community first recognized the anabolic effect of androgenic anabolic steroids and used a multitude of these compounds for ‘doping’. What followed was an illicit market and the development of new designer steroids designed to elude detection.

Recent findings Today any new designer steroid must demonstrate both safety and effectiveness for the intended use. Although new androgen formulations allow safer and more physiologic delivery, future development will allow tissue selective therapies, such as bone or muscle. One promising new area of development includes selective androgen receptor modulators.

Summary Clinicians must understand the role of androgenic anabolic steroids in clinical practice to provide patient care. Future development of non-steroidal compounds – selective androgen receptor modulators – will perhaps provide safer and more effective therapy. The development of these new drugs must be watched.

Department of Surgery/Urology, Uniformed Services University Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Correspondence to Jean L. Fourcroy, 6310 Swords Way, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA Tel: +1 301 897 5563; e-mail:

Conflict of interest: The author has been a consultant to GTx, Inc.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.