JAPhA Releases Study About Drug and Dietary Supplement by NCAA College Athletes

Published Online: Monday, May 13, 2013
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The use and abuse of drugs, dietary supplements, and other substances by athletes have become major issues and concerns that sporting organizations must consider and manage. A number of sports organizations have provided resources for their athletes and the general public to obtain accurate and timely information about drugs, dietary supplements, and other substances, such as “drug information services.” In addition to drug information, these services provide valuable information on the policies and procedures involving banned and permitted substances and drug testing policies.

The drug testing program for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is managed by the NCDFS. The offered REC is available to NCAA athletes, athletic staff, and affiliated health professionals, who can submit questions anonymously and confidentially to obtain information regarding the status of a particular substance under the NCAA policy. Prescription and nonprescription medications can be self-searched from a database using the drug lookup feature on the website. Inquiries related to dietary supplements and medications not found in the drug lookup can be submitted to the REC using the banned drug inquiry (BDI) feature via phone, e-mail, or an online form. In addition, the REC responds to general questions regarding NCAA drug testing policies and procedures.

An introduction to the research study appears below. Full-text articles are available free of charge on the Journal’s website at www.japha.org or copy can be requested by email from mspinnler@aphanet.org.

Characteristics and trends of drug and dietary supplement inquiries by college athletes
Peter J. Ambrose, PharmD, FASHP; Candy Tsourounis, PharmD; Frank D. Uryasz, MBA; Eric Patterson, MBA

Synopsis: This study characterizes substances of interest to NCAA athletes and athletic staff based on inquiries made to the NCDFS confidential and anonymous resource during a 12-month period. Banned substances accounted for 30% of all inquiries submitted to the REC and 18% of medications searched in a drug lookup database. Inquiries for prescription medications for albuterol inhalers, methylphenidate, amphetamines, and prednisone were the most common using a drug lookup function. The most common inquiries for over-the-counter medications included pseudoephedrine, loratadine, cetirizine, and caffeine. Among dietary supplements, inquiries for amino acids/metabolites, vitamins and minerals, and herbal products occurred most frequently.

Analysis: To help prevent inadvertent use of banned substances for athletes subject to drug testing, pharmacists should be familiar with how to obtain information on banned, restricted, and permitted substances by the various sports-governing organizations. New substance trends often develop in the world of drug and sport, and as a result, databases such as the REC can help uncover drug trends. The risk for contaminated or adulterated dietary supplements poses unique challenges for student athletes, and pharmacists can help inform student athletes of these risks. Pharmacists are not routinely included as a potential source for information within the NCAA survey on substance and abuse, and the authors note this as a problem.

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