Big Dan’s is sued for allegedly falsely advertising steroids
September 25, 2017
A locally-based dietary supplements website, Big Dan’s Fitness, is being sued by an Arizonan-based supplement company after allegations of false advertisements on the website.
According to the lawsuit, Nutrition Distribution LLC, also known as Athletic Xtreme, is suing Big Dan’s Fitness for false and misleading advertising on certain products containing anabolic-androgenic steroid chemicals, such as dymethazine and methylstenbolone, collectively known as illicit or anabolic steroids.
Dan Moore, owner of Big Dan’s Fitness, which is based in Lewiston with locations across Idaho and Eastern Washington, said he had not heard of any negative effects from his customers from using these products and denied all allegations of the case.
“We’re actually not false advertising anything,” he said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website, anabolic steroids are typically given by healthcare providers to treat hormonal issues and diseases that cause muscle loss, such as cancer and AIDS.
It states some people, such as athletes, can abuse these steroids by taking doses 10 to 100 times higher than doses prescribed to treat medical conditions to boost performance or improve their physical appearance.
According to the website, this abuse may lead to short-term effects, including extreme irritability and impaired judgement. Long-term effects may include kidney problems or failure, and liver damage.
In men, side effects can include shrinking testicles and the development of breasts, while women can have growth of facial hair and a deepened voice. When used during puberty, teens can also be affected by stunted growth.
The Big Dan’s Nutrition store in Pullman is owned by Dan Moore, but is considered a separate entity, and is not involved in the lawsuit and did not sell the products specified by the lawsuit or the Food and Drug Administration.
Even so, sales associate Trevor Garnett said in-store sales initially suffered when the lawsuit was initiated in May.
However, he said sales generally have been fluctuating because the store itself hasn’t been around for too long, and sales have since increased as they are developing a loyal customer base.
Garnett said he and his friends have used the products themselves with no negative side effects. He said when he started using the products, in addition to working out, he lost 95 pounds.
“I stand behind these products,” he said.
Soon after the lawsuit was filed, the FDA sent a warning letter to Moore, advising him that products including “B3AST,” “Titan,” “Titan Two” and “Super Powers” violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
According to the letter, the products were represented as dietary supplements on their label, however the products did not meet the definition of a dietary supplement in section 201 of the FD&C.
To be a dietary supplement, the product must contain one or more dietary ingredients, which is defined as a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical dietary substance for use to supplement a diet by increasing the total dietary intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of any dietary ingredient from the preceding categories.
According to the letter, the ingredients listed on the product label are considered synthetic steroids and do not constitute dietary ingredients.
The letter also stated that the website contained claims about the effects of the products including “[G]ains in size and strength” as specified on the “Titan” label.
Because the FDA defines these products as prescription drugs, the claims are considered misbranded in failing to bear adequate directions for its intended use.
The company suing Big Dan’s, Nutrition Distribution LLC, faced a lawsuit in 2008 from a customer who suffered liver damage from using their product, “Superdrol.” According to the case, the plaintiff Tony Channell contended the company acted recklessly, maliciously and/or with contentious disregard of the foreseeable harm, which Channell believed warranted payment for lost wages and vacation time.
Robert Tauler of Tauler Smith LLP, representing Nutrition Distribution LLC, said the company has since sold only clean products and focuses on making sure other companies do the same.
The company has sued several dietary supplement competitors including IronMag Labs in 2016 for falsely labeling drugs as “research chems” that are not intended for human consumption, according to a Law 360 article.
The case was thrown out by the judge who wrote that the plaintiff failed to provide any customer complaints, and had not used the products, as well as provide any information to show that customers were using both companies’ products, according to the article.
Moore said he normally copies and pastes FDA products descriptions, but for those products, he added recommendations.
After talking to a compliance officer, Moore said he has since made the changes specified by the FDA. The products are still on the site but they are “out of stock.” However, because of the products’ popularity, Moore plans to replace them with similar products that meet FDA standards.
Even with the lawsuit receiving attention, he said online sales have increased because of customer loyalty and no reported side effects from customers.
“We’ve never had any customer complaints,” he said.