About a year and a half ago, Public Health Wales (the WEDINOS project) released a report on the state of the black market. They had collected hundreds of steroid samples from the public and sent them into the lab. Their analysis was qualitative only. No dosages were determined; they just looked to see if X,Y,Z steroid was in the product. Even with such limited testing, 1 in 3 products had serious problems. They either contained no steroid, or steroid(s) different than those on the label. The report underlined what we all know – the steroid black market is a mess. However, there testing highlighted a specific aspect of this problem that is not widely talked about. Many people are buying, using, and reporting favorable results from expensive drugs they are not actually getting. Drug substitution is a huge problem out there! This month I wanted to touch on the two fundamental reasons why.
#1: Great Variability in Price
Different steroids vary greatly from one another in price. This is true at all levels: retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. To that point, below you will find a recent price list from a steroid raw materials supplier in China. The market for such products is fairly open and competitive, so these prices should be fairly in line with most suppliers, give or take a little. As you can see, there can be drastic differences in the per kg cost of different anabolic steroids. On this list alone we have several products selling for $1,000 or less per kg, in great contrast to the $15,000-45,000/kg for products at the other end. The most expensive steroid is MORE THAN 50 TIMES THE COST of the cheapest… this is an enormous spread!
|Compound Name||Price/Kg (USD)|
|Testosterone (Cyp, Enanthate, Prop)||$800|
|Nandrolone (Decanoate, Phenylprop)||$1,800|
|Drostanolone (Enanthate, Propionate)||$4,500|
|Trenbolone (Acetate, Enanthate)||$5,200|
|Methenolone (Acetate, Enanthate)||$17,500|
#2: Difficulty Identifying Specific AAS
There are dozens of different drugs in the anabolic steroid class. As drugs of the same class, they share similar properties. While users more easily discern some compounds from others, there is a confusing middle area for most. Many drugs act in a very similar manner to many others. Few buyers are true veteran steroid aficionados, capable of telling methenolone from nandrolone… stanozolol from oxandrolone, for example. We all like to think we can, but in truth, it isn’t always that easy when you only have gains and side effects to base your judgments on.
High-Value Targets: Be very leery of these expensive steroids, which are commonly the subject of drug substitution.
Anavar: $5,000 per kg
Oxandrolone is one of the most commonly counterfeited steroids. People seek out its mild anabolic properties and perceived low toxicity, and are willing to pay a premium for it. The retail cost for this drug can be over $100 per 100 tablets (10 mg). The steroid raw materials cost to make this is a small portion, of course. It is roughly $5. That doesn’t seem like much, but consider that 5 mg of stanozolol would cost only $.88. That is a big difference, especially when producing these by the 1,000. Who is going to notice? Of course not many do. Stanozolol shows up in black market Anavar quite a bit, though.
Parabolan: $15,000 per kg
Trenbolone acetate and enanthate are expensive enough at $5,200 per kg. But go for the obscure French hexahydrobenzylcarbonate ester, and you’re looking at nearly 3X times that much ($15,000 per kg). Of course, the differences between trenbolone enanthate and trenbolone hexahydrobenzylcarbonate are minimal. I challenge you to tell them apart from feel. Sorry, you’re not going to. Counterfeiters know this. Do you think many underground “Parabolan” products today have real hexahydrobenzylcarbonate in them? Some do, but far from all when the gain for such “slight” transgression is so large. A $15 raw materials cost per bottle drops to $5.20, and who is going to be the wiser? You, if you opt for the cheaper bottle of trenbolone acetate or enanthate.
Primobolan Depot: $17,500 per kg
Methenolone enanthate is a very high-cost item. At retail, a 10 mL vial with 100mg/mL can run you over $100. The cost for this in raw materials is about $17.50. That is quite a bit, actually. There are a lot of other costs involved of course, and our struggling underground producers need to make a profit. Many decide to cross that line and put in nandrolone decanoate instead. It is $1,800 per kg (about 10%), so a dose of 50 mg/mL costs only $.90. That equates to a savings of $16.40 per bottle! Can you tell the difference between them? Perhaps you can, but I suspect most cannot. To that point, nandrolone is one of the most commonly substituted steroids in black-market Primo, and again, not a lot of people are complaining about it.
I understand this month’s ARU isn’t quite a revelation for most readers. We all know counterfeiting is a problem, and we all know that drug substitution is part of this. However, I believe most haven’t taken the time to look at the actual economics involved. When you see the raw numbers in front of you, I think it is much easier to comprehend the scope of the problem. Further, I hope it will serve to help keep some of you more on guard in the future. Perhaps it is a better idea to stick to the basics (testosterone, nandrolone, boldenone, methandrostenolone, stanozolol) when you are unsure of your supply. These tend to be less expensive, after all, and perhaps are less likely the subject of drug substitution. For what that is worth, anyway. Until next time, be safe.
Got a question for William Llewellyn? Go to www.musculardevelopment.com, MD Forums, MD Staff and Pros, Q and A for William Llewellyn.
William Llewellyn helped develop ROIDTEST™, an at-home steroid testing kit. His books (ANABOLICS, UNDERGROUND ANABOLICS, and SPORT SUPPLEMENT REFERENCE GUIDE) are also now available as e-Books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.
Originally Published in May 2016 Issue of Muscular Development)