Documents: Animal drugs offered
By Josh Peter, Yahoo Sports
September 18, 2007
Injectable stanozolol, an anabolic steroid used to speed the recovery of horses and other animals debilitated by surgery or disease, is listed on the price sheet of Signature Pharmacy's current products. Some athletes have reportedly used injectable stanozolol as a performance-enhancing drug.
The district attorney in Albany County, N.Y., launched the investigation two years ago and is continuing to investigate Signature Pharmacy, a spokeswoman for the office has said. Christopher Baynes, the lead prosecutor on the case, on Tuesday declined comment for this story.
A pricing sheet for Signature Pharmacy that lists injectable stanozolol among its products was sent by company executive Kirk Calvert via e-mail to the owner of a health clinic in Florida last month. Calvert, the company's director of business development, faces criminal charges stemming from the raid on Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Fla.
When reached for comment Tuesday, Calvert said the price sheet was not current.
When asked how the company justified selling veterinary drugs in the past, Calvert said he was boarding a flight and didn't have time to elaborate. He referred further questions to attorney Amy Tingley, who represents Signature Pharmacy and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The owner of the health clinic provided Yahoo! Sports a copy of the e-mail on the condition of anonymity because he said he feared for his safety.
"Here are our prices on our current products," Calvert wrote in the e-mail. "… Please fill out the Welcome Packet and then we can start to receive scripts from you."
Gary Wadler, an internist and renowned expert on performance-enhancing drugs, decried the use of veterinary drugs in humans.
"I think it's absolutely unconscionable," he said. "They're not approved for that. To put it bluntly, I think it's outrageous."
Signature Pharmacy, which stands accused of filling illegal prescriptions for hundreds of clients including professional athletes, reopened one day after being raided in February and has remained under scrutiny. The far-reaching investigation has led to criminal charges against the pharmacy, doctors and health clinics involved in the alleged multi-million dollar scheme involving the illicit distribution of growth hormone and steroids.
The company owners have pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges, which do not include the sale of veterinary drugs labeled for human use. A woman who answered the phone at Signature Pharmacy on Tuesday said Naomi Loomis, the CEO, and Stan Loomis, the chief operating officer, were out of the office and that she did not know when they would return.
Stanozolol is known by the brand name Winstrol. Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter who was stripped of the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters in 1988, tested positive for the drug. Rafael Palmeiro, the former All-Star baseball player, reportedly tested positive for injectable stanozolol in 2005 when Major League Baseball announced Palmeiro had violated the league's drug policy and suspended him for 10 days.
Some steroids are thought to be more potent when administered by injection, according to experts in the field. But there are no clinical trials documenting the potential side effects of injecting stanozolol in humans.
Stanozolol pills have been used legally to treat a rare genetic disorder called hereditary angioedema. The U.S. company that produced the drug ran into manufacturing problems in recent years and doctors have switched to alternatives to treat the disorder, according to a website devoted to hereditary angioedema. But evidence shows Signature Pharmacy sold injectable stanozolol for human use before it was raided on Feb. 27.
Prescription information on a box with Signature Pharmacy's insignia shows Dr. Claire Godfrey prescribed three 10-millilieter vials of stanozolol for one patient. Godfrey pleaded guilty in July to criminal diversion of prescription medication. She is one of nine defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case that stemmed from a far-reaching investigation into the illicit distribution of steroids and human growth hormone but has centered on Signature Pharmacy, the family-run company that prosecutors say made $30 million in 2006.
Godfrey declined comment when reached Tuesday.
The patient who provided the information to Yahoo! Sports said the prescription for injectable stanozolol was filled before Signature was raided, and the label on the box indicates the drug should be discarded by March 31, 2007. The patient also provided a 10-milliter vial with a label showing the drug was made by Signature Pharmacy.
The label on the vial includes the following information: "This medication was custom compounded for you by a registered pharmacist on order from your physician." Veterinary medication must be labeled as such, according to federal law, and there is no designation on the bottle of the stanozolol indicating the drug is compounded and sold for animal use. The price sheet for Signature Pharmacy products also includes no information indicating the injectable stanozolol is for animal use.
Signature Pharmacy sells a 10-milliter vial of injectable stanozolol for $40 and a 10-milliter vial of stanozolol mixed with testosterone for $50, according to the price sheet.
The pharmacy attracted more unwanted publicity in recent weeks when news leaks linked three Major League Baseball players to the company. According to published reports, outfielder Rick Ankiel received HGH; third baseman Troy Glaus received testosterone and nandrolone, an anabolic steroid; and outfielder Jay Gibbons received HGH, testosterone and a drug used to stimulate the natural production of testosterone through Signature Pharmacy.
Rodney Harrison, a free safety for the New England Patriots, and Wade Wilson, quarterback coach for the Dallas Cowboys, both used HGH they received from Signature, according to recent published reports.
Josh Peter is a writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Josh a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Tuesday, Sep 18, 2007 6:27 pm, EDT