Lawsuit over synthetic steroids clears hurdle

San Diego, Calif., Dec. 19, 2016 — A U.S. District Court judge has cleared the way for a federal lawsuit to proceed against a Texas-based supplement maker accused of selling synthetic steroids over the Internet.

OstarineIn a lawsuit, Nutrition Distribution LLC, the maker of Athletic Xtreme natural sports supplements, claims Applied Anabolic Science, LLC, of Corpus Christi, Texas, of using false and misleading advertising to sell bodybuilding supplements containing SARMS, or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators.

According to the lawsuit, AAS is “unlawfully advertising, marketing, distributing and offering for sale” supplements containing the chemicals Andarine, Ligandrol and Ostarine, which are intended to have effects similar to illegal anabolic steroids. Ostarine, for instance, has been deemed not for human consumption by the FDA.

AAS sold its products over the Internet and, the lawsuit claims, touted the benefits of the steroid-like supplements without warning users of the health dangers, which include liver damage and increased risk of heart disease.

Los Angeles Attorney Robert Tauler, a principal of Tauler-Smith LLP, filed the complaint Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in San Diego. AAS in November filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the FDA, not the federal court, had “primary jurisdiction” to consider the complaint; that Nutrition Distribution had no standing to sue for false advertising; and that a similar suit filed by Nutrition Distribution against another company selling Ostarine was dismissed.

In her Dec. 16 decision, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo wrote that the federal court was the appropriate venue for the lawsuit, because the FDA’s regulatory expertise “is not required to determine whether it is false and misleading to market products to competitive athletes while neglecting to mention that such products have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.”

Furthermore, Bencivengo wrote that Nutrition Distribution had standing to file suit under the Lanham Act due to AAS being a competitor for the same customers; and that the suit which was dismissed – and is being appealed – isn’t relevant because the cases are different. She gave AAS until Jan. 6 to respond to the lawsuit.

“AAS’s conduct is a black eye on the industry as a whole and has the tendency to disparage Nutrition Distribution’s products and goodwill,” said Tauler, an expert in false advertising and commercial litigation who represents many top-tier natural supplement companies.

Several professional athletes this year alone have been banned from competition after their blood tested positive for Ostarine.

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EDITORS: Attorney Robert Tauler is available for comment.