Counterfeiting in performance- and image-enhancing drugs

Counterfeiting in performance- and image-enhancing drugs / Michael R. Graham, Paul Ryan, Julien S. Baker, Bruce Davies, Non-Eleri Thomas, Stephen-Mark Cooper, Peter Evans, Sue Easmon, Christopher J. Walker, David Cowan, Andrew T. Kicman. - (Drug Testing and Analysis 1 (2009) 3 (March); p. 135-142)

  • PMID: 20355187
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.30


The current drastic escalation in obesity may be contributing to the exponential rise in drugs used for image enhancement. Drugs such as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are perceived as a viable method of achieving a perfect physique. They are also the most widely abused drugs in sport. The Internet has encouraged the abuse of expensive drugs, particularly human growth hormone (hGH), resulting in increased importation for personal use. The substantial increase in this market has opened up avenues for counterfeiting, estimated as a multi-million pound business. The acute adverse effects from contaminated vials may result in a variety of pathologies including communicable diseases. In 2007, in the UK, a series of intramuscular abscesses, requiring surgical treatment, led us to study samples obtained from the underground market.

The analysis of 38 parenteral samples and 19 oral samples of tablets was performed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, in an attempt to establish the extent of available counterfeit products. Fifty-three per cent (20) of the injectable AAS esters and 21% (4) of the oral tablets were counterfeit. Culture and sensitivity revealed the presence of skin commensal organisms, which may have contributed to the development of the abscesses. Users of AAS and hGH for sport, including bodybuilding, are currently risking their health because of counterfeit and poorly controlled products.

Original document


Research / Study
9 June 2009
Baker, Julien S.
Cooper, Stephen-Mark
Cowan, David A.
Davies, Bruce
Easmon, Sue
Evans, Peter
Graham, Michael R.
Kicman, Andrew T.
Ryan, Paul
Thomas, Non-Eleri
Walker, Christopher J.
United Kingdom
Other organisations
Kingston University London
Newman University
Royal Gwent Hospital
University of Glamorgan
University of the West of Scotland
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC)
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
London, United Kingdom: Drug Control Centre
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
S2. Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors
Growth hormone (GH)
Medical terms
Health effects
Counterfeit drug
Illegal production / trade
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
22 October 2020
Date of last modification
24 October 2020
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